Watch!

Luke 21:34-36

By John Grimm

Every year it seems like Christmas comes before we are ready.  We are going to work.  We are doing our daily and weekly routines at the store, with our family, and with the church.  Suddenly, there it is.  It is Christmas (again)!  How did we not notice it creeping up on us?

Jesus warned the disciples and all the people (Luke 20:45) to be on guard.  We can be weighed down with the concerns of work and home.  We can be drunk on how well our college tournament brackets are going to perform.  We can even be worried about how high the gas prices will go.

Life can trap us., so much so that we may actually miss out on what God is doing around us.  Heaven forbid if we miss what God is doing in our lives!  Our social media feed will not get us caught up with what we missed from God.  What can we do?

We pray.  We are alert in prayer as we ask Jesus for strength to prepare us for the destruction Jesus foretold in Luke 21:5-33.  The power of the Holy Spirit can get us to the point where we can stand before the Son of Man.

Until Jesus Christ returns, we can be praying.  That will be the best posture for Jesus to find us in when that day happens.

Almighty God, we know not when Jesus Christ will return.  Until that day arrives, we read that Jesus wants us to be on guard.  Thank you that we can meet you in prayer.  May all the troubles of this life and the destruction to come not trap us, making us unready for when Jesus returns.  Holy Spirit, give us the strength we need to make it through that day.  We ask this request in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

The Simple Approach

Micah 6:6-8 (NRSV)

“With what shall I come before the Lord,
    and bow myself before God on high?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,
    with calves a year old?
Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,
    with ten thousands of rivers of oil?
Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression,
    the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?”
He has told you, O mortal, what is good;
    and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
    and to walk humbly with your God?

By Chuck Griffin

I just returned to work after taking a couple of weeks’ vacation, something I highly recommend. “Duh,” some of you might be saying, but you would be surprised how hard it is for a lot of pastors to make the decision to take a vacation, or even an appropriate amount of time off during the week.

If for no other reason, it is important that we take that time so we maintain perspective. And so often, it seems that perspective is largely a matter of remembering what is important, and then focusing on what is important by employing the “KISS” principle—Keep It Simple, Stupid.

My first Monday back at work was a good example of how my vocation, like a lot of jobs, can become a series of unexpected, frustrating exercises. I’ll not go into a lot of detail, but when I got home, I invoked the memory of an old ’80s commercial when I said to my wife, “I’m not a lawyer, but I apparently play one at church. I’m also not an IT guy, a psychologist, a human resources director or a financial planner, but I play those at church, too.” I did manage to teach a Bible study on Monday.

Vacation is good because it allows us to get our heads out of the swirl of the extraneous for a while and remember who we truly are. As children of God, we always will have distractions, but our service to God has to be a priority.

Micah reminds us that serving God doesn’t have to become an overly elaborate or painfully ritualized activity. Mainly, it’s about getting our hearts right. Countering injustice, showing kindness, and humbly remembering who we are in relation to God are God-honoring ways to live.

I’ll try to remember that as the work week progresses.

Lord, whatever we are doing, please let us find ways to make what we do about you and your plan of salvation. Amen.