The First 15

Wednesday May 18, 2022

by Jan Davis

Today is Wednesday, May 18 and we are exploring what the bible says about the role of the community in sanctification.

Opening Prayer

As I begin a time of prayer, I pause and become still. I quiet my busy mind and calm my wandering thoughts. I breathe deeply and slowly, and center myself upon the presence of the God who loves me.

Pause and Pray

Blessed Lord, I long to experience your presence during these early moments of my day. I want to hear your voice above all other voices in my life. Speak to my heart and mind the message you have for me. Come, Holy Spirit, show me how I can find Christian community and mature as a disciple of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Scripture Reading

My loving God watches over me. I rejoice in his faithfulness with the words of Psalm 121.

The Lord watches over you— the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all harm— he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore. Psalm 121:5-8

Pause and Pray

John Wesley, the eighteenth century founder of Methodism, explicitly rejected the idea that a Christian could become holy in isolation from other believers. He insisted on the importance of community for becoming like Jesus. The community Wesley had in mind was much more than a get-together of friends for fellowship. God wants believers to experience life-giving community where disciples learn, grow, worship, and partake in the Lord’s Supper together. An intimate community where believers humble themselves, bare their hearts, share the state of their souls, confess their sins and receive prayer for growing in sanctification. This is a safe place where disciples welcome accountability for wrongdoings and receive encouragement, strength and support. This is a community which carries one another’s burdens.

Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. Galatians 6:1-3

Reflection

Whatever burdens I am carrying today, I know I can lay them down at the foot of the cross. The bible tells me I can also share these burdens with my brothers and sisters in Christ. I can voice my concerns, divulge my challenges, reveal my struggles, acknowledge my guilt and confess the full depths of my sin. Forgiveness is spoken over me and I receive strength to conquer ongoing transgressions and besetting sins. The prayers of faithful friends in Christ are answered in God’s provision of power to overcome challenges and wisdom to resolve problems. In authentic community with Christians who live by the Spirit, my fellow disciples carry my burdens and I carry theirs in turn.

Ask: Am I open to finding and developing deeper relationships within my community of faith? What burdens do I carry that I could share with a true friend in Christ?

Pause and Pray

Loving Lord, thank you for creating me to be in community with you and other Christian believers. I thank you for the good friends of the faith I already know and ask you to bring others into my life who long to grow in maturity and holiness. Help me understand the role we play in one another’s lives to make progress in sanctification. I read the words from Galatians again and listen for the message you have for me.

Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. Galatians 6:1-3>

Ask: What image, word or phrase stands out to me when I slowly read this passage? What is God trying to say to me through these words of scripture?

Pause and Pray

God wants to speak to me about the importance of Christian community in my life. I consider what role the church plays in identifying sin, restoring sinners, raising awareness of sin and watching for temptation. Perhaps I am deceiving myself and think I am above sin. Maybe I am the one caught or hiding in a web of sin. Perhaps I am the one called to pick up and carry another’s burden. Maybe I need to unburden myself of a concern I have been carrying around for some time. Perhaps God wants me to do so with one or two trusted believers to receive prayer to overcome and perseverance to press on toward victory.

Pause and Pray

Come, Holy Spirit, I open my arms wide to receive your sanctifying grace. I confess the enormity of my sin and unburden myself of all regrets. I relinquish my anxious concerns and worrisome challenges and seek your peace. May your good grace toil in my spirit and bring holiness to my heart and life. Show me my role in restoring others – loving them and encouraging them to share their burdens with me. Amen.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30

Closing Prayer

I leave this time of prayer relieved of the weight of my burdens, ready to carry the load of another in Christ Jesus.

Amen

The First 15

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