January 10, 2003
Building Small Christian Communities
"They devoted themselves to the apostles' instruction and the communal life, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. A reverent fear overtook them all, for many wonders and signs were performed by the apostles. Those who believed shared all things in common; they would sell their property and goods, dividing everything on the basis of each one's need. They went to the temple area together every day, while in their homes they broke bread. With exultant and sincere hearts they took their meals in common, praising God and winning the approval of all the people. Day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved." Acts 2:42-47
This book will guide us through the seminars. We must grow greatly in our faith in the next twelve weeks, or we will not be ready for the Christian community promised to us in God's word. Therefore, it is very important to read and pray the Scriptures listed for each day of the twelve weeks. Studying the two chapters of the Bible assigned for each week will give us an even deeper experience of God's word. In the twelve weeks of the seminars, we expect God's word to be like a two-edged sword that will penetrate, divide, and judge the reflections of our hearts (Heb 4:12). We also expect to grow in an accelerated way in our faith-commitment to Jesus, for "faith comes through hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Rm 10:17, our translation). Forming Biblical, Christian community in our society will be nothing less than a miracle. The Lord will work this miracle by His grace through our faith rooted in His word.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Week 1 - Christian Community
Week 2 - Biblical Brotherhood and Sisterhood
Week 3 - "Crucified to the World" (Gal 6:14)
Week 4 - "There's No Place Like Home"
Week 5 - Evangelization
Week 6 - Sanctity and Service
Week 7 - Spiritual Gifts in the Home Meeting
Week 8 - Everyday Life in the Home-based Community
Week 9 - Preparing to Join a Community
Week 10 - The Larger Church and the Home-based Community
Week 11 - Networking Home-based Communities
Week 12 - The Leadership of the Home-based Community
"It was in one Spirit that all of us, whether Jew or Greek, slave or free, were baptized into one body. All of us have been given to drink of the one Spirit." 1 Cor 12:13
Theme: Christian community is not an option but a necessity, for it is a practical expression of our baptismal covenant.
Day 1 "The eye cannot say to the hand, 'I do not need you,' any more than the head can say to the feet, 'I do not need you.'" 1 Cor 12:21
Because we have been baptized into one body, we need each other even more than we need every part of our physical bodies.
Day 2 "I pray that they may be (one) in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me." Jn 17:21
The Lord promised that we would lead to Him our neighborhoods, many of our co-workers, and our cities (see Acts 8:8; 9:35; Jn 4:39). But we must be one as He and the Father are one, then the world will believe that the Father sent Him.
Day 3 "To each person the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good." 1 Cor 12:7
Because the gifts of the Spirit are given for the common good, they will not be fully released until we are in Christian community.
Day 4 "Where two or three are gathered in My name, there am I in their midst." Mt 18:20
Many people in our society, even Christians, have little awareness of Jesus' presence. When we are in one accord, we experience Jesus' presence in an exceptional way.
Day 5 "My sheep hear My voice. I know them, and they follow Me." Jn 10:27
Only the Lord's sheep (plural) can fully hear the Lord. We need each other to hear all that the Lord is saying to us.
Day 6 "Where a lone man may be overcome, two together can resist. A three-ply cord is not easily broken." Eccl 4:12
Most of us have seen several active Christians fall away from their faith in Jesus. In Christian community, we are strengthened and protected against this.
Day 7 "Little children, let us love in deed and in truth and not merely talk about it." 1 Jn 3:18
Our baptismal commitment to the Lord and one another must be more than talk. We must live it out in practical ways.
Study for the week: John 17; 1 Corinthians 12
"I pray also for those who will believe in Me through their word, that all may be one as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You." John 17:20-21
Theme: There is an amazing depth to Biblical brotherhood and sisterhood.
Day 1 "The way we came to understand love was that He laid down His life for us; we too must lay down our lives for our brothers." 1 Jn 3:16
We are called to love our brothers and sisters in Christ so much that we would actually die for them.
Day 2 "If one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members share its joy." 1 Cor 12:26
Brothers and sisters in Christ are compassionate. They know and love each other to the point that they suffer with each other. They are not jealous but joyous when other Christians are honored.
Day 3 "So well disposed were we to you, in fact, that we wanted to share with you not only God's tidings but our very lives, so dear had you become to us." 1 Thes 2:8
Brothers and sisters in Christ share together their very lives.
Day 4 "I have already said that you are in our hearts, even to the sharing of death and life together." 2 Cor 7:3
God's word repeatedly calls us to share life and death together.
Day 5 "I do not want what you have, I only want you." 2 Cor 12:14
Biblical brotherhood and sisterhood focuses on the person, not just on the gifts and abilities of the person.
Day 6 "The community of believers were of one heart and one mind. None of them ever claimed anything as his own; rather, everything was held in common." Acts 4:32
Christian community means sharing both spiritually and materially.
Day 7 "I ask you, how can God's love survive in a man who has enough of this world's goods yet closes his heart to his brother when he sees him in need?" 1 Jn 3:17
We love our brothers and sisters in Christ by providing for each other's practical needs.
Study for the week: John 13; 1 John 4
PRAYER TO BE CRUCIFIED TO THE WORLD (Gal 6:14)
At next week's seminar, you will be prayed over to be crucified to the world and the world to you. By "world," the Bible usually does not mean creation, but the system which operates irrespective of the lordship of Jesus. Because Jesus' lordship is denied or ignored in most areas of our society, being crucified to the world is a major event in a Christian's life. This prayer will result in sweeping life-style changes. Paul described it in this way: "Those things I used to consider gain I have now reappraised as loss in the light of Christ. I have come to rate all as loss in the light of the surpassing knowledge of my Lord Jesus Christ. For His sake I have forfeited everything; I have accounted all else rubbish so that Christ may be my wealth and I may be in Him" (Phil 3:7-9).
The Holy Spirit will take us to the foot of Jesus' cross. There we will see the connection between our worldly ways and Jesus' brutal death, and will want nothing more to do with the world. Go to Confession this week in preparation for next week's prayer.
"May I never boast of anything but the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ! Through it, the world has been crucified to me and I to the world." Galatians 6:14
Theme: Until we are alienated from the worldly community, we are not free to be committed to Christian community.
Day 1 "If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own; the reason it hates you is that you do not belong to the world. But I chose you out of the world." Jn 15:19
The Lord has specifically chosen us out of the world.
Day 2 "No man can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other or be attentive to one and despise the other. You cannot give yourself to God and money." Mt 6:24 "Save yourselves from this generation which has gone astray." Acts 2:40
We cannot serve both God and the world.
Day 3 "What do righteousness and lawlessness have in common, or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What accord is there between Christ and Belial, what common lot between believer and unbeliever?" 2 Cor 6:14-15
True Christianity is incompatible with the world.
Day 4 "Unfortunately, many go about in a way which shows them to be enemies of the cross of Christ. I have often said this to you before; this time I say it with tears. Such as these will end in disaster! Their god is their belly and their glory is in their shame. I am talking about those who are set upon the things of this world. As you well know, we have our citizenship in heaven." Phil 3:18-20
Those set upon the things of this world are enemies of the cross.
Day 5 "O you unfaithful ones, are you not aware that love of the world is enmity to God? A man is marked out as God's enemy if he chooses to be the world's friend." Jas 4:4
We must repent of an adulterous relationship with the world.
Day 6 "Beloved, you are strangers and in exile; hence I urge you not to indulge your carnal desires." 1 Pt 2:11
Because we are not at home in this world, we refuse to give in to worldly desires.
Day 7 "Have no love for the world, nor the things that the world affords. If anyone loves the world, the Father's love has no place in him." 1 Jn 2:15
If we love the world, we refuse to provide a place for the Father's love in our lives.
Study for the week: John 15; 1 Peter 2
"They went to the temple area together every day, while in their homes they broke bread." Acts 2:46
Theme: A home is the primary base for Christian community.
Day 1 "Look for a worthy person in every town or village you come to and stay with him until you leave. As you enter his home bless it." Mt 10:11-12
Jesus established the home as the base for evangelization and ministry. All churches for the first 300 years of Christianity were homes.
Day 2 "After she and her household had been baptized, she extended us an invitation: 'If you are convinced that I believe in the Lord, come and stay at my house.'" Acts 16:15
Lydia, the first convert of the western world, made her home a church.
Day 3 Prisca and Aquila "even risked their lives for the sake of mine. Not only I but all the churches of the Gentiles are grateful to them. Remember me also to the congregation that meets in their house." Rm 16:4-5
Priscilla (Prisca) and Aquila had the most significant home-based community of the New Testament.
Day 4 "When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him home and explained to him God's new way in greater detail." Acts 18:26
In Priscilla and Aquila's home, Paul was strengthened and Apollos converted.
Day 5 "He went to the house of Mary the mother of John (also known as Mark), where many others were gathered in prayer." Acts 12:12
Other notable home-based communities were those of Mary, Nymphas (Col 4:15), Titus Justus (Acts 18:7), Gaius (Rm 16:23), and Philemon (Phlm 2).
Day 6 "If a man does not know how to manage his own house, how can he take care of the church of God?" 1 Tm 3:5
The home based-community was a training ground for leadership in the early church (see also 1 Tm 3:12 and Ti 1:6).
Day 7 "Then He said to the disciple, 'Behold your mother!' And from that hour the disciple took her into his own household." Jn 19:27, NAS
On Calvary Jesus commanded John (who represents all Jesus' disciples) to take Mary (who represents the Church) into his home.
Study for the week: Acts 18; Romans 16
"They proceeded to announce the word of God to him and to everyone in his house. At that late hour of the night he took them in and bathed their wounds; then he and his household were baptized." Acts 16:32-33
Theme: The home-based community is the primary base for evangelization.
Day 1 "Day after day, both in the temple and at home, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news of Jesus the Messiah." Acts 5:42
Throughout Acts (2:47, 5:42, 16:15, 18:26), the home is the place of evangelization.
Day 2 "Levi gave a great reception for Jesus in his house, in which he was joined by a large crowd of tax collectors and others at dinner." Lk 5:29
Jesus used Levi's home to reach out to tax collectors and non-observers of the law.
Day 3 Jesus "sent him away with the words, 'Go back home and recount all that God has done for you.'" Lk 8:39
Jesus told the demoniac who had been delivered to begin his evangelizing at home.
Day 4 "Jesus said to him: 'Today salvation has come to this house.'" Lk 19:9
Jesus will say this of your home if you make it a Christian community and a base for evangelization.
Day 5 "Day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved." Acts 2:47
After Pentecost, the early church met in homes daily for the breaking of the bread (the Eucharist) and shared meals. This resulted in wildfire evangelism.
Day 6 "He led them out and said, 'Men, what must I do to be saved?' Their answer was, 'Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, and all your household.' They proceeded to announce the word of God to him and to everyone in his house." Acts 16:30-32
Paul evangelized a jailer and his family in the middle of the night at the jailer's home.
Day 7 "Look for a worthy person in every town or village you come to and stay with him until you leave. As you enter his home bless it." Mt 10:11-12
Although you have prayed about this Scripture last week, pray again and expect a new insight.
Study for the week: Matthew 10; Acts 16
"You will lead a life worthy of the Lord and pleasing to Him in every way. You will multiply good works of every sort and grow in the knowledge of God." Colossians 1:10
Theme: In the home-based community, we grow in an accelerated way in holiness and ministry.
Day 1 "Jesus, for His part, progressed steadily in wisdom and age and grace before God and men." Lk 2:52
Jesus progressed steadily in grace in the context of a community so large He could be "lost" in it for three days.
Day 2 "It was being built up and was making steady progress in the fear of the Lord; at the same time it enjoyed the increased consolation of the Holy Spirit." Acts 9:31
In the context of the community formed at Pentecost, Jesus' disciples made steady progress in holiness.
Day 3 "The trouble was that I could not talk to you as spiritual men but only as men of flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, and did not give you solid food because you were not ready for it. You are not ready for it even now, being still very much in a natural condition. For as long as there are jealousy and quarrels among you, are you not of the flesh?" 1 Cor 3:1-3
Divisions in the community hindered the Corinthians' spiritual growth.
Day 4 "In those days, as the number of disciples grew, the ones who spoke Greek complained that their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution of food, as compared with the widows of those who spoke Hebrew." Acts 6:1
As the early Church grew in community, it grew into a powerful ministry to the poor.
Day 5 "Above all, let your love for one another be constant, for love covers a multitude of sins. Be mutually hospitable without complaining. As generous distributors of God's manifold grace, put your gifts at the service of one another, each in the measure he has received." 1 Pt 4:8-10
What we call "ministry" or "social services" the early Church called "hospitality." This indicates that ministry was based in the home.
Day 6 "Do not neglect to show hospitality, for by that means some have entertained angels without knowing it." Heb 13:2
The ministry of hospitality was greatly appreciated in the early Church.
Day 7 "Has she been hospitable to strangers? Has she washed the feet of Christian visitors? Has she given help to those in distress?" 1 Tm 5:10
The early Christians served the needy by offering them hospitality in their homes.
Study for the week: 1 Corinthians 3; Colossians 1
"When you assemble, one has a psalm, another some instruction to give, still another a revelation to share; one speaks in a tongue, another interprets." 1 Corinthians 14:26
Theme: The home-based community's meeting can be an ideal context for the use and development of each individual's spiritual gifts.
Day 1 "Enter His gates with thanksgiving, His courts with praise." Ps 100:4
We begin and end our gatherings by praising the Lord.
Day 2 "Christ's peace must reign in your hearts, since as members of the one body you have been called to that peace. Dedicate yourselves to thankfulness. Let the word of Christ, rich as it is, dwell in you. In wisdom made perfect, instruct and admonish one another. Sing gratefully to God from your hearts in psalms, hymns, and inspired songs." Col 3:15-16
As members of Christ's body, we thank Him, receive His word, express supernatural wisdom, and sing to Him (see also Eph 5:18-21).
Day 3 "The servant of the Lord must not be quarrelsome but must be kindly toward all. He must be an apt teacher, patiently and gently correcting those who contradict him, in the hope always that God will enable them to repent and know the truth." (2 Tm 2:24-25).
The Lord will give some members of your community the supernatural gift of teaching. They should use this gift at every community meeting.
Day 4 "I should like it if all of you spoke in tongues, but I much prefer that you prophesy." 1 Cor 14:5
The spiritual gifts of prophecy and tongues should be an important part of our gatherings.
Day 5 "One's gift may be prophecy; its use should be in proportion to his faith. It may be the gift of ministry; it should be used for service. One who is a teacher should use his gift of teaching; one with the power of exhortation should exhort." Rm 12:6-8
All the members of the community should be encouraged to participate in the meeting by using their spiritual gifts for the common good.
Day 6 "This prayer uttered in faith will reclaim the one who is ill, and the Lord will restore him to health. If he has committed any sins, forgiveness will be his. Hence, declare your sins to one another, and pray for one another, that you may find healing." Jas 5:15-16
Healings should be a normal occurrence in the home meeting.
Day 7 "We should not absent ourselves from the assembly, as some do, but encourage one another; and this all the more because you see that the Day draws near." Heb 10:25
Although the community's life is much more than the formal meetings, it is very important for all the members of the community to be at these meetings.
Study for the week: 1 Corinthians 14; Colossians 3
"I came that they might have life and have it to the full." John 10:10
Theme: Christian community is not just meetings and activities but the daily sharing of life in Christ.
Day 1 "Go out now and take your place in the temple precincts and preach to the people all about this new life." Acts 5:20
Christianity is God's way for us to live our daily lives together.
Day 2 "Remember to keep holy the sabbath day." Ex 20:8
The Lord's Day, the new sabbath, is the most important day of the week for sharing and growing in Christian community.
Day 3 "They devoted themselves to the apostles' instruction and the communal life, to the breaking of bread and the prayers." Acts 2:42
The heart of the communal life is sharing God's word, the Eucharist, and prayer.
Day 4 "Because the loaf of bread is one, we, many though we are, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf." 1 Cor 10:17
"One Bread, One Body."
Day 5 "They went to the temple area together every day, while in their homes they broke bread. With exultant and sincere hearts they took their meals in common." Acts 2:46
Sharing meals is essential to Christian community.
Day 6 "Greetings to Rufus, a chosen servant of the Lord, and to his mother, who has been a mother to me as well." Rm 16:13
Every community needs a mother who holds the community together.
Day 7 "So well disposed were we to you, in fact, that we wanted to share with you not only God's tidings but our very lives, so dear had you become to us." 1 Thes 2:8
We Christians are to share money, time, activities, and so much more. Through many interactions (see The Lay Members of Christ's Faithful People, Pope John Paul II, 20), the Lord strengthens our bonds as brothers and sisters in Him.
Study for the week: Acts 2; 1 Thessalonians 2
PRAYER TO PREPARE FOR JOINING A COMMUNITY
Next week you will be prayed over to prepare you to join a community in about a month. In order to have a deep, daily community life, your baptismal covenant should be practically expressed in some basic agreements. After the final seminar, you will decide whether to commit to these agreements. The initial commitment will be for three months. This can be renewed or lengthened. We will use Acts 2:42 as the basis of the prayer to prepare for joining a community. Go to Confession this week in preparation for this special prayer.
"The days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant." Jeremiah 31:31
Theme: Deep relationships should be based on the practical, focused living out of our baptismal covenant as brothers and sisters in Christ.
Day 1 "Little children, let us love in deed and in truth and not merely talk about it." 1 Jn 3:18
In baptism, we covenant to be brothers and sisters in Christ. We must live this out practically and not just talk about it.
Day 2 "I pray also for those who will believe in Me through their word, that all may be one as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You." Jn 17:20-21
We are to be one as Jesus and the Father are one. The Trinitarian depth of our brotherhood and sisterhood is based on our baptismal covenant.
Day 3 "Today the Lord is making this agreement with you; you are to be a people peculiarly His own, as He promised." Dt 26:18-19
When we covenant with the Lord and one another through Baptism, we become a people distinctively different, in the image and likeness of Christ.
Day 4 "Jonathan entered into a bond with David, because he loved him as himself." 1 Sm 18:3
David and Jonathan covenanted with each other. This covenant was necessary because of the difficult circumstances surrounding their friendship.
Day 5 "Wherever you go I will go, wherever you lodge I will lodge, your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Wherever you die I will die, and there be buried. May the Lord do so and so to me, and more besides, if aught but death separates me from you!" Ru 1:16-17
Ruth covenanted with Naomi, her mother-in-law. The Lord blessed Ruth by making her the great-grandmother of King David from whose tribe came Jesus the Messiah.
Day 6 "This is My blood, the blood of the covenant, to be poured out in behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins." Mt 26:28
The Eucharist is the supreme expression of God's covenant with us and our covenant with Him and one another.
Day 7 "They devoted themselves to the apostles' instruction and the communal life, to the breaking of bread and the prayers." Acts 2:42
We believe this is the most important Scripture in forming Christian home-based community. This is the theme-verse of all the seminars. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you new insights into this verse.
Study for the week: Matthew 26; Ruth 1
"They went to the temple area together every day, while in their homes they broke bread." Acts 2:46
Theme: The home-based community and the larger church need each other.
Day 1 "Day after day, both in the temple and at home, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news of Jesus the Messiah." Acts 5:42
The home needs to be related to a larger church so as not to become isolated. The church needs the home so as not to be impersonal and separated from daily life.
Day 2 "Give my greetings to Prisca and Aquila; they were my fellow workers in the service of Christ Jesus and even risked their lives for the sake of mine. Not only I but all the churches of the Gentiles are grateful to them. Remember me also to the congregation that meets in their house." Rm 16:3-5
All the churches of the Gentiles were indebted to the home-based community of Prisca and Aquila.
Day 3 "Thus you became a model for all the believers of Macedonia and Achaia. The word of the Lord has echoed forth from you resoundingly. This is true not only in Macedonia and Achaia; throughout every region your faith in God is celebrated." 1 Thes 1:7-8
The universal Church was blessed by the Thessalonian community.
Day 4 "Finally it was decided that Paul, Barnabas, and some others should go up to see the apostles and presbyters in Jerusalem about this question." Acts 15:2
The community of Antioch was under the authority of the leaders of the Jerusalem community.
Day 5 "It is the decision of the Holy Spirit, and ours too, not to lay on you any burden beyond that which is strictly necessary." Acts 15:28
The leaders of the Jerusalem community exercised their authority over other churches by the power of the Spirit.
Day 6 "Those who were the acknowledged pillars, James, Cephas, and John, gave Barnabas and me the handclasp of fellowship, signifying that we should go to the Gentiles as they to the Jews." Gal 2:9
Paul and Barnabas were in submission to and in fellowship with the Jerusalem leaders.
Day 7 "There is really no need for me to write you about this collection for the members of the church. I already know your willingness, and boast about you to the Macedonians with respect to it, saying that Achaia has been ready since last year. Your zeal has stirred up most of them." 2 Cor 9:1-2
Several communities helped the Jerusalem community financially during a famine.
Study for the week: Acts 15; Galatians 2
"At one point during those days, Peter stood up in the center of the brothers; there must have been a hundred and twenty gathered together." Acts 1:15
Theme: Most home-based communities must be networked with other home-based communities if they are to grow or even survive. As individuals need community, communities need community.
Day 1 "The Lord appointed a further seventy-two and sent them in pairs before Him to every town and place He intended to visit." Lk 10:1
The Lord not only had 12 apostles but also 72 and later 120 disciples. For home-based communities to last, they must be networked with other communities.
Day 2 "The churches of Asia send you greetings. Aquila and Prisca, together with the assembly that meets in their house, send you cordial greetings in the Lord. All the brothers greet you. Greet one another with a holy kiss." 1 Cor 16:19-20
The Christian communities of the province of Asia were united with each other.
Day 3 "Where a lone man may be overcome, two together can resist. A three-ply cord is not easily broken." Eccl 4:12
Just as individuals need one another for strength and stability, so communities need each other.
Day 4 "As for Titus, he is my companion and fellow worker in your behalf; our brothers too are apostles of the churches, the glory of Christ. Therefore, show these men the proof of your love, and why we boast about you, for all the churches to see." 2 Cor 8:23-24
Apostles were appointed to be living links between the communities.
Day 5 "My purpose in leaving you in Crete was that you might accomplish what had been left undone, especially the appointment of presbyters in every town." Ti 1:5
A network of communities will help raise up and equip leaders for the communities.
Day 6 "For lack of guidance a people falls; security lies in many counselors." Prv 11:14
In a network of home-base communities, we have access to many counselors. This provides security.
Day 7 "We have been much consoled by your faith throughout our distress and trial so much so that we shall continue to flourish only if you stand firm in the Lord!" 1 Thes 3:7-8
Communities need other communities to overcome trials. We rise or fall together.
Study for the week: 1 Corinthians 16; 2 Corinthians 8
PRAYER TO DO GOD'S WILL (Jn 2:5)
Next week is the final seminar. At that time, you will be prayed over to do God's will. The prayer will be based on John 2:5. The Lord has called you to participate in these seminars. The Lord wants these seminars to be the beginning of a new community-life in the Spirit for you. If you know that God is calling you to covenant for three months with a community, please tell the leader of your small group. If you don't know about your future commitment to a community or if you don't believe this is the Lord's will for you at this time, don't jump to conclusions. The Lord is still working in you. This week try to celebrate Mass and receive Communion daily or as often as possible. Go to Confession. End the seminars in openness to the Lord.
"My purpose in leaving you in Crete was that you might accomplish what had been left undone, especially the appointment of presbyters in every town."—Titus 1:5
Theme: Raising up and equipping leaders is the key to developing home-based communities.
Day 1 "With a leader to break the path they shall burst open the gate and go out through it" —Mi 2:13
We don't need to form communities but to form leaders who will form communities.
Day 2 "He who rules should exercise Ms authority with care." —Rm 12:8
Leadership is a special gift of the Spirit.
Day 3 "There were in the church at Antioch certain prophets and teachers." —Acts 13:1
Those with the gifts of prophecy and/or teaching are often called to leadership.
Day 4 "Presbyters who do well as leaders deserve to be paid double, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching." —1 Tm 5:17
Leaders who do well are "worth their weight in gold."
Day 5 "But the vine answered them, 'Must I give up my wine that cheers gods and men, and go to wave over the trees?' Then all me trees said to the buckthorn, 'Come; you reign over us!'" —Jgs 9:13-14
When those called to lead refuse the Lord's calling, the vacuum is filled by someone not called. This has harmful effects.
Day 6 "We beg you, brothers, respect those among you whose task it is to exercise authority in the Lord and admonish you; esteem them with the greatest love because of their work. Remain at peace with one another." —1 Thes 5:12-13
We must respect and love especially our leaders. This encourages them to accept and/or persevere in leadership.
Day 7 "Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over you as men who must render an account. So act that they may fulfill their task with joy, not with sorrow, for that would be harmful to you. Pray for us." —Heb 13:17-18
We must obey and pray for our leaders.
Study for the week: 1 Timothy 3; 1 Thessalonians 5
"May the Lord increase you and make you overflow with love for one another and for all, even as our love does for you. May He strengthen your hearts, making them blameless and holy before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His holy ones." —1 Thessalonians 3:12-13
Brothers and sisters,
"I give thanks to my God every time I think of you — which is constantly, in every prayer I utter—rejoicing, as I plead on your behalf (Phil 1:3-4). Pray daily for the Christian communities of the world. Community is a place of suffering and joy, of persecution and power. Community is the school of unconditional love. Despite the difficulties, we can be encouraged, for "He Who calls us is trustworthy, therefore He will do it" (1 Thes 5:24). May your home-based communities bear even greater fruit than those of the early Church, and may your communities be ready to meet Jesus at His final coming.