November 28 – December 4, 2017

WORD

3Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  4I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus, 5for in every way you have been enriched in him, in speech and knowledge of every kind— 6just as the testimony of Christ has been strengthened among you— 7so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ.  8He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you may be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.  9God is faithful; by him you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

1 Corinthians 1:3-9

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?

Scripture Reads Me:

  • This passage makes me feel…
  • This passage makes me think about…
  • This passage reminds me of…
  • This passage teaches me that God is…
  • This passages teaches me that I am…
  • This passage challenges me to…

Reflection: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

If you could ask for just one present for Christmas, what would it be?  It might sound a little cliche to say peace, but that is exactly what the coming of Christ brings.  In fact, Christ brings us a double portion of blessing, by providing us with peace and grace.  Paul often began his letters to the churches of Greece and Asia Minor by offering them this dual blessing.  There was no better gift he could imagine them receiving than these two cornerstones of life in Christ.

Why are they so important?  Grace fuels everything we are and everything we do in Christ.  Grace is the manner in which God relates to us.  In turn, our relationship with God defines us.  When we live within the communion of that relationship, we find peace – true shalom which binds all things together under the goodness and love of God.  When we live in grace, we find our home, which is peace.

It is good to know during this Advent season that the One who is coming to us, the One for whom we are preparing, is coming with these gifts.  The arrival of someone such as this produces no anxiety, no fear.  Instead, the coming of grace and peace provides us with comfort, confidence, and joy.  That is the beauty of these two gifts – all that is good is born from grace and peace.  May their presence in our world increase!

As you prepare yourself for these two gifts and their host, ponder a few questions.  How can you intentionally experience these gifts during the sometimes hectic season of Advent?  How can you daily prepare yourself to receive the Christ of grace and peace?  How might you offer these gifts to others during this sacred season?  May the gift Paul wished upon the church in Corinth be yours to both receive and give throughout the Advent season.

 

SPIRIT

Prayer Focus: I give thanks to my God always for you.

Our lives are made infinitely richer by the people with whom we share God’s grace and peace.  Our Scripture passage serves as a good reminder to thank God without ceasing for those people.  We can show our gratitude for others by treating them as Christ would treat them – with patience, love, and compassion.  And we should be active in doing this.  But verbally expressing our gratitude for them to God is a valuable exercise as well.  Spend some time this week thanking God for your family, friends, and Christian brothers and sisters.  Ask God to strengthen your relationships with them.  Trust God to continue to fill your life with the blessing of companions.  Conclude your time of prayer by singing this verse from the hymn “For the Beauty of the Earth”:

For the joy of human love,
Brother, sister, parent, child,
Friends on earth, and friends above,
Pleasures pure and undefiled,
Lord of all, to thee we raise
This our grateful hymn of praise.

Meditation Focus: …in every way you have been enriched in him.

What difference has following Jesus Christ made in your life?  How are you better off than you would be without Jesus?  Imagine yourself sitting with the Lord.  Ask him to show you five ways in which your life is richer by following him.  Allow Jesus to reveal to you what that area of your life would be like if you were not following him.  Then take some time to sit in the quiet, peaceful presence of the one who has given his whole self to make you who you are.  End this time of meditation by expressing your gratitude to Jesus for the change he has made in your life.  Express your gratitude in any way in which you feel led to do so.

Journaling Focus: so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ.

One of the promises God gives us is the promise to equip us for life as a child of God and as a servant of the kingdom of God.  As you journal this week, reflect on who God has called you to be and what work God has set before you.  Then reflect on the gifts and graces God has given you to fulfill that identity and mission.  In what ways must you still grow into your identity and mission?  How will God lead you to that place of growth and maturity?  What spiritual gifts do you desire?

Holy Action: 

Experience the joy of helping others through participating in Giving Tuesday at either www.givingtuesday.org or www.umcmission.org/Giving-Tuesday.  No gift is too small to make a big impact!

Breath Prayer: Father, strengthen us.

 

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