Monday, September 27, 2010: Two Are Better Than One
Daily reading: Ecclesiastes 4:9-12; John 15:12-17
In Ecclesiastes 4, Solomon reflects on the nature and benefits of friendship as opposed to a life alone. We often hear this text at weddings, but it’s intended to speak beyond marriage relationships. There is value in two people doing things together. In working, it’s simply easier and safer to work together. In walking, if one falls down, there’s someone to help. In most aspects of life, it’s good to have a friend. In your life, who is the friend you can count on? Do you have a friend in your workplace? Pray for your friends throughout the day.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010: A Threefold Cord
Daily reading: Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 again, Psalm 139:1-6
Notice how Solomon starts with the number one and then moves to the number two and ends with the number three. The wisdom in these verses teaches us that friendship is not only desirable, but necessary. The metaphor of a single cord that is easily broken is a vivid example of how fragile a solitary life can be. Add another cord and it’s not so easily broken. Add the third cord and there’s even more strength and sturdiness. The writer might be implying that God’s presence in a relationship can be the third cord, giving it sturdiness. Do you sense that God is present and active in your friendships? Is there something you can do to become more aware of how God works in friendships? Ask God to help you see how God is present and working in your relationships.
Wednesday, September 29, 2010: Unity
Daily reading: Ephesians 4:1-16; 1 Corinthians 1:10-17
As is true of many of Paul’s letters, Paul spends the first half of Ephesians talking about what God has done, and then spends the second half talking about what that means in practical terms for daily life. In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians this transitional hinge is between chapters 3 and 4. Since we’ve been saved by grace, since we’ve been reconciled, since we are one in Christ, since all the old barriers that separated us have been leveled on the cross … how, then, shall we live? In today’s passage, Paul begins to answer that question by talking about the unity of the body of Christ (1-6) and the diversity of the body of Christ (7-16). The unity of the body of Christ is a gift and an objective reality. The challenge for the church is to live out this reality by faith in daily life. Have you ever experienced real Christian unity? Do you remember what that felt like? In your prayers, ask God to reveal how you can be an instrument of God’s peace and bring unity to the body of Christ.
Thursday, September 30, 2010: Humility and Gentleness
Daily reading: Isaiah 57:15 and Philippians 2:1-8
Both the Greek and Roman cultures considered humility and gentleness to be weak character traits showing a lack of self-respect. The Old Testament, however, paved the way for a positive connotation of humility because God lives with the humble (Isaiah 57:15). Jesus exalted humility as a virtue. Self-centered living fractures community. Putting the needs of others first builds unity. As you live this day, be mindful of how humility and gentleness lead to greater unity. You might experience the opposites of these two characteristics, as well. How can you be a living example of humility and gentleness as you live this day? Ask God to lead you to specific situations in which you can be humble and gentle with others.
Friday, October 1, 2010: Patience and Loving Forbearance
Daily reading: Galatians 5:22-26; 1 Corinthians 13
The problem with community is that it involves imperfect people! Building healthy, unified community requires putting up with one another’s weaknesses and flaws. Elsewhere, Paul reminded believers that love is forgiving and keeps no record of wrongs. While this is challenging, Paul is merely urging us to give to others what we have already abundantly received from Christ. In your life today, you will encounter the flaws and imperfections of those around you. How will you deal with them? Can you demonstrate patience when something is taking too long? Can you exhibit loving forbearance when you would rather walk away? In your prayers today, ask God for patience in all situations. As you live this day, practice patience and forbearance.
Saturday, October 2, 2010: Live Out What God Has Done
Daily reading: Ephesians 4:4-6; Jeremiah 29:11-14
Why should we care about unity? Why work together with the Spirit to build and maintain unity? Paul answers that question in verses 4-6. He affirms the objective reality that there is one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism and one God and Father of all. Once again Paul is emphasizing that the life of faith is frequently little more than choosing to live out what God has already done. How can believing people live in disunity when, in fact, God has already made us one? How can you live into this reality of unity today? How can you live more fully into all that God has done for you? In your prayers today, ask God to show you the places in your life where the Holy Spirit can bring unity.
Sunday, October 3, 2010: Uniformity
Daily reading: Ephesians 4:7; 1 Corinthians 12:1-11
Unity is different than uniformity. Paul is not advocating for sameness. He is advocating for a profound and healthy interdependence in which the diverse gifts of each person are invested toward the same ends: unity of the faith; unity of knowledge of Christ; and maturity of the body, becoming like Christ. We are all gifted uniquely, and these gifts, when used in unity, form the body of Christ. The diversity of Christian community can and should be a strength! How are your unique gifts being used to build up the body of Christ? Is there something you can do today to use these gifts more fully? In your prayers, ask God to clarify your spiritual giftedness and then lead you to new ways to use those gifts