Monday, November 22, 2010: Unity
Daily reading: Philippians 1:27-30; Genesis 11:1-6
In Philippians 1, Paul focuses on the conflict that the Philippians face with those who deny the gospel. Paul, writing from prison, is facing a similar conflict (1:29). Paul is concerned that these young Christians examine their life together and, modeling their life together on Christ’s example, live in unity. Unity is the best defense against those who attack the church from the outside. Paul is not calling for uniformity, everyone believing and acting in exactly the same way. This unity is only possible if the Philippians live out of a deep humility. In Genesis, we see a picture of the first kind of unity on earth; one language and one people. Since that chapter was written, much has been shattered in our world. In your life today, are there places where unity is not present? In your prayers, ask God to more deeply connect you with those people in your life.
Tuesday, November 23, 2010: Humility
Daily reading: Micah 6:8; Philippians 2:8-11
The word “humble” comes from the Latin word “humus,” which means soil or dirt. This root helps inform the tension, or paradox, of humility. On one hand, we are reminded, as we are on Ash Wednesday, that we are dust, and to dust we shall return. On the other hand, we are dust that has been formed by the hand of God, breathed into life and made the crown of God’s creation. Paul’s call to humility reminds us that we are not to think more highly of ourselves than we ought, or less of ourselves than we ought. Humility finds its expression in actions that are not self-centered; actions that regard others as more important than ourselves. We must balance self-interest and the interests of others. This is modeled by Christ himself, and the Holy Spirit accomplishes this work in our lives. Where do you need more humility? Ask God to show you where humility is needed in your life, and to transform your heart and mind by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010: Mindset
Daily reading: Romans 12:2; Philippians 2:5-7
Paul affirms that humility is first an attitude, a mindset that we can choose as we focus on the model of Christ. Paul also affirms that this mindset is a matter of God’s transforming grace and the fruit of the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives (Romans 12:2; Galatians 5:22ff). To illustrate genuine humility, and to point to the power that grows humility in us, Paul paints a picture of Jesus. He says “have this mind among yourselves.” The mindset he points to is one of servanthood and humility, the mindset best demonstrated by Jesus Christ. What’s your mindset? Ask God to make you more aware of your mindset and more willing to be “transformed.”
Thursday, November 25, 2010: Hoops
Daily reading: Micah 6:6-7; Matthew 23:13-15
Micah 6:8 calls us to lives of sacrifice. Many of us would like to know exactly what that sacrifice is and put it on our to-do list, so that we can satisfy the requirement, check it off, and move on with “our” lives. But Micah 6:6-7 makes it clear that jumping through hoops and merely fulfilling requirements is not what God has in mind. Rigid, external obedience which left the heart unchanged was not God’s desire back in Micah’s day, nor was it God’s desire in Jesus’ day. This is Thanksgiving Day, and most of us will eat a big meal and give thanks for the blessings of life. Some of us may even attend a worship service today. Do you ever feel like you are jumping through religious hoops and fulfilling requirements? Ask God to change your heart and take away what might be rigid rule-keeping in your life, and replace it with a heart filled with thanksgiving.
Friday, November 26, 2010: Confession
Daily reading: Leviticus 5:5-6; 1 John 1:8-10
The first step on the journey toward humility is confession. God invites us to kneel down and spend some time allowing the Holy Spirit to show us who we really are, and get honest with God about our self-centeredness. We can spend time reflecting on today’s Scripture reading and allow God to speak deeply into our lives through the example of Jesus. We’re invited to lay it all out before God, and let God forgive us and give us a fresh start. We practice confession each week as we worship together. The next time you worship in a public setting, notice the language of the confession and think about why it’s important for you. What do you need to confess today? In your prayers, make your confession to God.
Saturday, November 27, 2010: Submission
Daily reading: Micah 6:8 again; James 4:4-10
The second step in our journey toward humility is submission. We pray and ask God for the Spirit’s power to set us free from ourselves. The good news is that Jesus isn’t just the model for humility. His Spirit is also the power for change. This is a daily process of kneeling – at least metaphorically, if not physically – before God, asking God to do in us what we cannot do for ourselves: change our hearts and transform our minds. The text from James invites us to “humble ourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.” This comes directly from the pattern of Jesus who humbled himself on a cross. What in your heart and mind needs transformation? Go to your knees and ask God to transform those things that need changing, through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Sunday, November 28, 2010: Secret Service
Daily reading: Isaiah 41:8-10; 1 Corinthians 12:4-11
The third step on our journey toward humility is secret service. Richard Foster, in his book In Celebration of Discipline, suggests that the most powerful discipline for growing in humility is to serve others without letting anyone know what you’re doing. Nothing starves our over-inflated egos like secret service. Sacrificially serve someone’s needs, but don’t let anyone know. When your ego cries out for attention, recognition and adulation, starve it to death! Today, secretly serve someone and see what happens in your soul. Ask God to lead you to the perfect person who needs serving today.