Let’s PRAY together:
Lord, let our souls rise up to meet you as the day rises to meet the sun.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.
May the peace of the Lord Christ go with us: wherever He may send us;
Lord, You are our leader, lead us.
You are our friend, be with us.
You are our defender, protect us.
You died for us, help us to live as You did.
may You guide us through the wilderness: protect us through the storm;
may You bring us home rejoicing: at the wonders You have shown us;
may You bring us home rejoicing once again into our doors.
“If you grow a healthy tree, you’ll pick healthy fruit. If you grow a diseased tree, you’ll pick worm-eaten fruit. The fruit tells you about the tree. (Matthew 12:33 MSG)
In the eyes of the world, the church has not exactly been a beacon of kindness, gentleness, and patience. Many non-believers and most former believers will point to harsh or unkind treatment by the church as their main reason for rejecting the Good News. Unfortunately, the church has made some really poor choices throughout history to protect prestige, influence, and property instead of the powerless. Consider the church’s stand on slavery in the U.S., apartheid in South Africa, treatment of Jews in Europe in the 1800s, and hiding church leader’s engaged in pedophilia. Now of course, these are broad brush strokes, some churches and church leaders have stood for love, transparency, and protection of the needy. But as God’s people, we are held to higher standard.
The “fruit” we produce as a community and as individuals matters because it reveals who we serve. So what can we do about it? How do we live in a way that produces fruit? Well, if the “fruit” we are talking about is the evidence of God at work in our lives then we need to make sure that God can work in our lives. We need to know Him better, talk with Him, LISTEN to Him, learn about Him, and connect with His people. This happens through studying God’s word, praying, and being a part of a church community.
When church members know the Word and are sensitive to the Spirit then they will be a church that identifies with Jesus rather than the world. We will stop valuing power and prestige over “care for the least of these”. Is this easy? No! Jesus said, “…wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Jesus understood that following Him would require sacrifice and suffering, that the world would resist such a challenging message and that His people would find it easy to get distracted. Bearing good “fruit” is the whole point of why we are here, are you ready to do some pruning?
DAILY SCRIPTURE READING
Our daily scripture reading comes from the following link… http://listenersbible.com/devotionals/biy/
If you have any insights into our daily readings, please feel free to share them with me.
I would encourage you to visit https://bibleproject.com/explore/2-samuel/ for an overview of the book of 2nd Samuel and https://bibleproject.com/explore/acts/ for an overview of the book of Acts. These videos will help with the “big picture” and the main themes.
2 Samuel 3:22-5:5
The violence continues. Messengers, continue to be murdered in graphic ways, for killing kings of Israel. Abner, who was the hero at the end of yesterday’s reading, is killed by Joab in revenge.
The nation of Israel was intended to be set apart from all other nations. They were God’s chosen people, with the purpose of showing the world a “different” way to live. So far, there doesn’t seem to be any difference. They seem to be like all other nations. Which raises the question, what is the purpose of the church? Are we supposed to look like the world or something else?
2 Samuel 5:6-6:23
David will finally take control over Jerusalem, establishing Jerusalem as the city of David and the center of focus for Israel. He will continue to battle against the Philistines, and he will then attempt to bring the ark of God to the city of Jerusalem.
Now this is an interesting story, because the death of Uzzah and David’s anger/fear don’t make a lot of sense, unless, something else is going on. Numbers chapter 4 describes how the ark is to be moved. I think it would be interesting to study the history of the ark throughout the Old Testament, and how it was perceived as almost a good-luck charm. Controlling the ark-controlled God. But did it? Aren’t we still looking for ways to control God, or to get him to fulfill our will? As opposed to treating God with the reverence that he is due. Do we follow God or attempt to use him?
The gospels all end with the resurrection of Jesus. But is this the end of the story? How does Acts begin?
Verse 8 talks about the intent of the Holy Spirit. What is it? The purpose of the nation of Israel, was to be set apart as a witness to a different way of living. Consequently, what is the purpose of the church? It’s the same isn’t it? In the context of our study of the Fruit of the Spirit, this occurs through transformed lives, where we are living differently from the world. We are a continuation of the purpose of the nation of Israel, which is to bear witness to Jesus as the messiah, and his coming kingdom.
How does the idea of casting lots sit with you? While it’s not something we do, I find it interesting that it was a part of the first church’s decision-making process. One of the questions we need ask as we read scripture is, whether a text is descriptive or prescriptive. Is Luke describing how they made this decision, or is Luke saying this is how we should make decisions? Descriptive vs. prescriptive reading completely changes the meaning of what we read.
Pentecost Sunday was this past Sunday. It is the day we remember the pouring out of God’s Spirit upon the disciples. When we think about the Spirit, how many of us long to share in this type of experience. But what’s really important, is the reason they spoke in tongues. We’ll have to wait until tomorrow to see the result of this moment.
Psalm 69 is a longer psalm, and so instead of breaking it up, I’ve been reading it each day over the last few days. What strikes you today?