Relationship with the World

Readings for this week January 20 – 24
Click here for a pdf of this week’s readings

Due to the holiday season, the January Daily Readings were prepared in advance of the Summer Series, and therefore are not directly connected with the content of the Summer Series.

The readings for the four weeks of January will follow the four key relationships (God, Self, Each Other, World), addressing one relationship each week. The readings are taken from across our series of Life Together books, hence why some may seem familiar.

The readings follow the same format as before.

Day 1 – Jesus on the Move

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Luke 4:42-44

Jesus was determined to fulfil his mission to preach the coming of the kingdom of God and to help people enter it.

Jesus spent much of his time preaching the message of the kingdom, saying that the kingdom has come and that everyone who sincerely wants to enter it can do so.

Jesus told many parables that show what the kingdom of God is like and what it means to be a child of God. But he was not an observer, merely relating events. He spoke into people’s lives. He was a storyteller who entered the story itself, and he interacted with people to bring them into the kingdom. When Jesus speaks into a person’s life, things change. We know this ourselves, because he has changed our own lives.

The biggest journey Jesus made was from heaven to earth. He was God present among us. We call this the incarnation—God in human form. As followers of Jesus we are called to enter into other people’s life stories, to be present among them, listening to them and sharing the truth about Jesus and his kingdom.

Question to Consider
Jesus took the time to enter into people’s life stories so they could come to know that God loved them. This week how could you go out of your way to join someone who doesn’t yet know God’s love for them?

Prayer
Lord God, help me make that small yet crucial journey across the couch/the room/the road/the city/the world into the lives of others. Show me how to share my life and what you have done in my life with others, wherever they are. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 2 – The Community of Hope

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Acts 4:31-35

The hope that this world so desperately needs comes through the power of Jesus by way of the new community that he has called into being.

We have been called to join in Jesus’ work of redeeming creation back to his Father, and we have been promised the Holy Spirit to guide and give us strength to take the message of the Kingdom to the world.

The redemptive community of Jesus is to be right at the front of the wave of hope that the world needs to restore it to God. In the verses we read today, the Holy Spirit led Jesus’ followers to share their possessions and property so that everyone’s needs were provided for. This radical approach was noticed by others and it gave the believers opportunity to talk about God’s love and the power of Jesus to free from slavery to sin.

It’s the same for us today. The redemptive community we belong to is how God has chosen to restore his creation. The world belongs to God and he wants it back. This is the message we bring.

Questions to Consider
What do you think about the way the early church shared their possessions? Do you think doing something like this would work today? Why or why not?

Prayer
Sovereign Lord, you came to us offering hope when it seemed like there was no hope to be found. You showed us another way of living and another way of loving by living a life of love for us. May we offer the very hope we have found in you to others. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 3 – Daily Bread

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Deuteronomy 8:6-18

God cares for the material needs of his children. It’s easy for us to get caught up in going after security or a comfortable life and expect God to shower us with whatever we think we need. The truth is much greater.

In that very famous prayer from the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught us to pray, ‘Give us this day our daily bread.’ Because we live in a society where we get far more than our basic food needs we tend to forget God and take self-sufficiency for granted. But not only do we forget God, we also forget his children.

God wants all people to have their needs met and be looked after. Poverty is not part of his plan—it is wrong and evil. Inequality between rich and poor is not right. We have taken the material advantages that God has given us, focused our lives on them and overlooked the fact that so many of God’s children live in desperate poverty without clean water, daily food or adequate shelter.

In reading about this beautiful world today, let’s not focus on keeping this blessing for ourselves. And let’s also not forget that poverty is wrong—God wants it gone.

Questions to Consider
What are the things you think you really need in life? What can you do to help ensure everyone in the world has these essential things?

Prayer
Heavenly Father, may my faithfulness match your faithfulness to me, so that I can be a place where your Spirit speaks and acts into the lives of all those I come across. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 4 – Trusting God to Make a Good Fit

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Genesis 39

Today we read part of Joseph’s life story. It wasn’t an easy life at times, but Joseph was capable of faithful service even in the middle of temptation and hardship.

For much of Joseph’s life, things didn’t go to plan. His brothers hated him so much they sold him off as a slave. Then, after doing well for a while, he landed in prison. But Joseph didn’t despair, and neither did he use his circumstances as an excuse to do nothing. Wherever he was, he found ways to serve.

God was able to work through Joseph’s circumstances to achieve some remarkable things. Whether for Potiphar or in prison, he did the work he was assigned to the best of his ability. He served God through his work, doing good to the family and the community that he lived in.

Joseph had to learn to trust that God would help him in his work. And God did help him in many ways, including guiding the interpretation of Pharaoh’s dreams. Wherever we are, God wants to help us make the most of our work. He guides us through his Holy Spirit, stepping in when needed, and giving us the strength to work. As he was with Joseph, God is with us.

Questions to Consider
How easy do you think it was for Joseph to trust God? What makes it hard for you to trust God? How can this be overcome?

Prayer
Heavenly Father, thank you for the gift of your good news. May every aspect of my life, work and play be transformed by your love. Help me share with others all the gifts you have lavished on me. May I be a faithful steward of all you have given. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 5 – God’s Mission and God’s Kingdom

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Matthew 6:9-15

The way in which God’s will reigns supreme in Heaven will one day be reproduced on earth, in full. This is God’s promise to us and our hope for his world.

God has promised us that he will reign eternally and make all things new. Though that final, complete day is not here yet, Jesus teaches us to keep praying that God’s will be done on earth. And how is his will to be accomplished? Jesus has passed the baton to us. Remember ‘as the father has sent me, so I send you’? We are to take his love and compassion to the world, stumbling, fumbling, faltering, yes, but also hoping, trusting, hanging on. We seek God’s kingdom, not through strength and force, but through weakness, compassion and self-giving love. We carry with us the hope and promise of that day when God’s kingdom will be seen in all its glory, and when the king himself will return.

Until that time we are to constantly pray that his will be done on earth – that through his power and our obedience the kingdom will continue to expand on earth, transforming God’s creation, as people follow Jesus. It is God’s mission and God’s kingdom and we have a vital role to play. There is hope, whatever people may be going through.  There is a kingdom coming all around us – God’s kingdom – and the king is one day coming back.

Question to Consider
How might what you do today assist in the coming of God’s kingdom?

Prayer
God of compassion, your power and love can make the difference in everyone’s lives; help me be a pathway for that power and love into the lives of others. Nothing is too great for you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)