Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Spiritual Gifts (1 Corinthians 12:4-11)

Today's scripture: 1 Corinthians 12:4-11

If you believe in the God of the Bible, have accepted salvation through the sacrificial death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and have committed your life to God—Father, Son, and Spirit—you are part of the body of Christ.

God has gifted you uniquely to serve Him and His people in a way no one else can. In several places in the New Testament, spiritual gifts are mentioned, both implicitly and explicitly. Today’s verses list several gifts, including wisdom, knowledge, faith, and healing.

Yes, knowing the different kinds of gifts God gives is very important. Even more importantly, we need to know what gifts God has given each of us—and use them.

Most important of all, thought, we need to remember that, as many gifts as there are, there is one Spirit, one God who gives these gifts. And “one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.”

If you don’t know how you’ve been uniquely gifted, ask the Spirit to reveal your gift to you. Seek counsel from godly men or women. Find a program that will help to assess your strengths.

Once you’ve determined your gift, use it to glorify God and serve His people.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Names of God (1 Corinthians 12:1-3)

Today's scripture: 1 Corinthians 12:1-3

Only those who have accepted the gift of salvation through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ can call Him “Lord.”

And He is our Lord. Our Adonai.

I love that God is called by many names in His word. I wrote about this a decade ago:

One of the things I love most about the Bible is that God is called by many names. What I love about that is that I can find God by name in each and every situation. If I’m in pain, I can find Him by name. If I have a need, I can find Him by name. If I’m experiencing tremendous joy, I can find Him by name. If I’m lonely, I can find Him by name. This is such a blessing to my heart, and I hope it blesses your heart as well. When you feel lonely, remember that God sees you and is there for you. You can find Him by calling El Roi: the God who sees (Genesis 16:13). When you have a need, remember that God will provide for you. You can find Him by calling Jehovah Jireh: the Lord will provide (Genesis 22:14). When you’re in pain, remember that you can find Jehovah Rophe: the God who heals (Exodus 15:26). When you’re frightened and unsure, remember that you can find the God who is your Refuge and your Strength (Psalm 46:1). When you’re feeling stressed or out of control, remember that God will calm your spirit. You can find Him by calling Jehovah Shalom: the Lord is peace (Judges 6:24). When you’re feeling unlovable and unloved, remember that you can find the God who is Love (1 John 4:16). When you’re surrounded by darkness, remember that you can find the God who is light, and “in Him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). I encourage you to find a good book on the names of God and of Jesus. As you seek God every day, you’ll find Him however you need Him. (The Best Laid Plans © 2005 Sauni Rinehart)
If you are a follower of Christ, you can call on your God … by whatever name your heart desires.

Friday, March 27, 2015

In a Holy Manner (1 Corinthians 11:33-34)

Today's scripture: 1 Corinthians 11:33-34

Communion or the Lord’s Supper is not a time to get together and socialize. It’s not a time to eat and drink for pleasure:
They were to eat for hunger and pleasure only at home, and not to change the holy supper to a common feast; and much less eat up the provisions before those who could bring none did partake of them, lest they should come together for condemnation … Holy things are to be used in a holy manner, or else they are profaned. (Matthew Henry Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible)
And that’s the bottom line, isn’t it? "Holy things are to be used in a holy manner..." And guess what? When we accept the gift of salvation through the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, we are holy. And so we also should behave in a holy manner.

Loving our God—heart, soul, mind, and strength. Loving others as ourselves. (See Mark 12:30-31)

Demonstrating the fruit of the Spirit:
joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). Avoiding the “deeds of the flesh”: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these (vv. 18-21).

Striving to live like Christ in all we say, do, or think. Being lights in a very dark world (see Matthew 5:14-15; Romans 2:19; Philippians 2:15).

Again I have to ask the question: How are we different from unbelievers? Are we holy people acting in holy manners? Or are we just like them … except we say we love Jesus?

Something to think about … and I hope you do.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

An Unworthy Manner (1 Corinthians 11:27-32)

Today's scripture: 1 Corinthians 11:27-32

Yesterday, we looked at words that are very familiar to many of us: Do this in remembrance of Me.

Paul was specifically writing about what Jesus said when He served His disciples bread and wine just before His arrest and execution.

But shouldn’t everything we do be done out of gratitude for our Lord’s sacrifice? In several places in Paul’s gospels, he writes about grace and then asks something like, “Does the knowledge that we’re forgiven from our sins give us liberty sin again? May it never be!”

If we consider what Jesus did for us, how He suffered betrayal and denial, torture and ridicule, a horrifyingly painful death, shouldn’t we act and think and speak “in remembrance” of Him? In other words, shouldn’t the Savior of our souls be so “front of mind” that we choose to honor Him in all we do?

We are unworthy of His grace, yet God sees worth in each of us. We are, therefore, worthy in His eyes. To do anything in “an unworthy manner” (in a manner that doesn’t honor Christ) whether it’s taking communion, dealing with our children, interacting with our coworkers—even updating our Facebook status—is just like saying what Jesus did doesn’t really matter.

Oh …. And may that never be!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Do This in Remembrance (1 Corinthians 11:23-26)

Today's scripture: 1 Corinthians 11:23-26

 “Do this in remembrance of Me …”

In just a little over a week, we will celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior—something we should certainly celebrate every single day. We Christ-followers follow another solemn tradition when we take part of communion or the Lord’s Supper.

Like many things, however, we may take this event for granted. Some churches have communion monthly or quarterly or as the Spirit leads. However often we partake, we must remember what eating of the bread and drinking of the wine really means.

We are remembering how Jesus was willing to experience the horrifying pain of a broken body and how His blood was spilled to save us from our sins. Thorns in His head. A cat o’ nine tails ripping apart His back.

For you. For me.

And so when we eat a bit of bread or a piece of cracker, we should do so with gratitude and humility. And when we sip the wine or juice, our hearts should break as we remember what He did for us.

Let’s never take the Lord’s Supper for granted. Let it never be just another ritual or tradition.

Rather, let us always do so in remembrance of our Lord and Savior.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Unity (1 Corinthians 11:17-22)

Today's scripture: 1 Corinthians 11:17-22

Paul wrote to the church at Corinth just a handful of years after Christ’s ascension … and already there were “divisions” and “factions” in the church. People were coming “together not for the better but for the worse.”

Sadly, not much has changed over the centuries.

So much is being written and discussed about how people “love Jesus, but hate the church.” The church is full of hypocrites, they say. Those church people are so exclusive, so intolerant.

Even within the church, denominations abound. So much “my church is better than your church.”

The tragedy is that the “church” isn’t a building. It’s not a place. The true church is the body of Christ, the One who gave His life to provide salvation for all people. For all people.

That’s what we seem to forget. We are all sinners. We are flawed, imperfect, unrighteous. Yet when we put our trust in Jesus, when we believe in Him and accept His gift of salvation, we become part of His body, part of His church.

We are hands, feet, eyes, and ears of the very same body. And as such, we should work together, love each other, serve each other. We should be healthy and growing. And others should want to be a part of this body because of how attractive it is.

We should have no divisions within the church. Maybe if we did, unbelievers would have a desire to be part of the true church.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Be Imitators of Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1)

Today's scripture: 1 Corinthians 11:1

Jesus Christ suffered and died for our sins. He was buried and then rose from the grave. He appeared to hundreds of people before His ascension into heaven.

And a new faith was begun.

It wasn’t too long before a new term was used: Christian (see Acts 11:26). Out of curiosity, I decided to Google “definition of Christian.” Webster’s simply says, “
one who professes belief in the teachings of Jesus Christ.” But that seems too simple. Many people profess to believe in Christ, but belief isn’t enough. After all, “the demons also believe, and shudder” (James 2:19).

Another online dictionary states that a Christian is one who “profess[es] belief in Jesus as Christ or following the religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus” (thefreedictionary.com).

Yet even that seems lacking.

The best definition—for me at least—is Christ-follower or one who strives to live like Christ. Or as Paul writes, one who imitates Christ.

Today, some Christians don’t like the term because the world equates “Christian” with “hypocrite.” And yes, many people have done some really hurtful things in the name of Christianity.

But what if those of us who bear the name of our Savior really did all we could do to live like Christ, to imitate Him?

To love others as ourselves. To be willing to lay down our lives for others. To be gentle and kind and humble. 

Then perhaps the term would be revered—even among those who choose not to follow Christ. 

Friday, March 20, 2015

Glorifying God in Everything (1 Corinthians 10:31-33)

Today's scripture: 1 Corinthians 10:31-33

Today's devotional is short, but (I hope) sweet. I just have one thing to ask: What would it be like if we only we lived to do everything to the glory of God.


What we think. What we say. What we do. All for God’s glory.

Quite a few years ago, the initials WWJD were wildly popular: What Would Jesus Do? The idea behind it was exactly verse 31 says: "do all to the glory of God."

Loving others. Treating them with gentleness, kindness, and patience. Looking beyond our differences and celebrating the similarities.

Serving God—heart, soul, mind, and strength. Seeking His will. Following His plan.

Praising Him. Worshipping Him.

Glorifying Him.

In everything

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Lawful ... but Not Profitable (1 Corinthians 10:23-30)

Today's scripture: 1 Corinthians 10:23-30

God established the law to help His created beings know how to live. As Paul wrote to the church in Rome: “
I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, ‘YOU SHALL NOT COVET’” (7:7, NASB).

However, those of us who have accepted the gift of grace and salvation through the sacrificial death and resurrection of our Savior are no longer under the law (see Galatians 3:13; 4:5). Instead of focusing on a list of “do’s” or “do nots,” we should instead focus on living as Christ did. We should strive to love our God—heart, soul, mind, and strength—and love our neighbors (see Mark12:30-31).

Think of it: If each of us really focused on living the “fruit” of the Spirit, how different would this world be? If we were people of “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23a, NKJV). Why? “Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit” (5:23b-25).

Just because we can do something, doesn’t mean we should do something. We’re all called to serve God in the way He’s called us. We’re not all preachers or teachers. We’re not all gifted the same way.

Certainly, we need to live righteously, but more importantly, we need to seek God’s will in all things. striving to glorify our Lord.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Flee from Idolatry (1 Corinthians 10:14-22)

Today's scripture: 1 Corinthians 10:14-22

It’s so easy to get caught up with the things of this world … too easy. We’re inundated with images of wealth, beauty, sex. The biggest, fastest car. The grandest house. The designer clothes. The gorgeous celebrities. It’s all so enticing.

It’s easy to make things and people our idols. We focus on them instead of God. We “sacrifice” to them instead of to the One who created us and then made a way for salvation.

It’s true. We may not literally sacrifice on an altar, but we do sacrifice every day. We sacrifice our time, our money, our God-given skills and talents.

Instead of spending time in prayer, we watch television. Instead of focusing on God’s word, we focus on the latest gossip or bestselling novel. Instead of giving to our church, we take the vacation of a lifetime.

I’m not saying these things are bad in themselves. I watch television. I read novels. I love to travel. But I try very hard to make these things significantly lower on the priority scale than my time with God.

We can’t sacrifice to the world and equally sacrifice to God. One or the other will come out on top.

The question is: Which is more important? Where are we investing the majority of our time, treasures, and talents?

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Trials and Temptations (1 Corinthians 10:11-13)

Today's scripture: 1 Corinthians 10:11-13

Sometimes I reread a verse I’ve read many times before, and I’m struck again by how God blesses His children.

Many Christ-followers are familiar with verse 13: "No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it." These words give me both peace and confidence.

Peace because I know God is faithful in all things, even in times of temptation or trial.

I do have to make a clarification here: I used to work with a woman who insisted that temptation meant exactly that, and she claimed that those who quoted the verse as “God will not allow you to experience trials beyond what you are able” were wrong. However, when you look at the word “tempted” and cross-reference with at least one other reference using the root word (see 2 Peter 2:9), you find it does also mean trial. The Amplified Bible offers additional context for today's verse 13:

For no temptation (no trial regarded as enticing to sin), [no matter how it comes or where it leads] has overtaken you and laid hold on you that is not common to man [that is, no temptation or trial has come to you that is beyond human resistance and that is not adjusted and adapted and belonging to human experience, and such as man can bear]. But God is faithful [to His Word and to His compassionate nature], and He [can be trusted] not to let you be tempted and tried and assayed beyond your ability and strength of resistance and power to endure, but with the temptation He will [always] also provide the way out (the means of escape to a landing place), that you may be capable and strong and powerful to bear up under it patiently.
So, I can be confident that not only will God not give me anything more than I can endure, but He’ll also give me the strength to endure it.

Trials will come. Since the fall in the garden, they’re just a part of life. But we can be confident that our faithful God will see us through.

Praise Him!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Some "Do Nots" (1 Corinthians 10:6-10)

Today's scripture: 1 Corinthians 10:6-10

In these verses, Paul gives us several “Do nots.”

Do not be idolaters. Some of us think of idolatry as worshipping an image of some other god, and yes this is true. But idolatry is more than that. We Christians can be idolaters. If we put anything—things, hobbies, work, relationships—ahead of God, then they become idols in our lives. I quoted Susanna Wesley a while ago when I wrote about sin, but I think her words speak to this idea of idolatry as well:

Whatever weakens your reason, impairs the tenderness of your conscience, obscures your sense of God, takes off your relish for spiritual things, whatever increases the authority of the body over the mind, that thing is sin to you, however innocent it may seem in itself.
We need to make absolutely certain God is number one priority in our lives.

Do not act immorally. When we do anything that goes against God’s moral code, we sin. We are to keep ourselves pure and abstain from sin of any kind: sexual, spiritual, mental, emotional. We should strive to dwell on those things that are good and lovely and edifying (see Philippians 4:8). We should, “Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart” (NKJV, 1 Timothy 2:22).

Do not try the Lord. While many of us go to the story of Gideon and his testing of God with the fleeces, we need to trust God and His plan. We need to focus on Him and spend time in His word and in prayer. We need to love Him fully—heart, soul, mind, and strength.

Do not grumble. Of all these “do nots,” this may be the hardest for some of us! We tend to be a discontented lot. We have been blessed so much, yet we want more. God promises to supply our needs—not our wants—and, for many of us, He has done so abundantly. God miraculously brought the Israelites out of slavery, and provided food and water, and yet they grumbled. God provided for their needs. yet they complained time and time again (see Exodus 15:24; 16:2; 17:3). Our needs have also been provided for, and yet, we, like the Israelites, we grumble and complain. We must not to do so.

God, and our relationships with Him, must be our first priority. We must live to please Him by not living immorally or testing Him or grumbling.

Because one day, we’ll stand before Him. I don’t know about you, but I long to hear, "You are a good and faithful servant … Come and share in my happiness!" (CEV, Matthew 25:23).

Friday, March 13, 2015

Learn from History (1 Corinthians 10:1-5)

Today's scripture: 1 Corinthians 10:1-5

What’s that old saying? Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it (something like that). It’s true for us Christians as well.

We are so tremendously blessed. Tremendously blessed. We have been blessed with provision and protection. Our needs are met. We are blessed with friends and family. Most of all, we are blessed by God’s grace, both at the moment of our salvation and then throughout our lives.

God’s chosen people were equally blessed. They were supernaturally released from slavery in Egypt. They were miraculously brought through the Red Sea. They were given food and water in the middle of the desert. They were promised a land flowing with milk and honey.

They were tremendously blessed.

Yet, they doubted. They whined. They complained. They built false idols. They promised to serve God, and yet they turned away time and time again. And because of their sin and lack of faith, an entire generation didn’t enter that promised land.

Have we learned from their mistakes?

Or do we forget how God has blessed us and try to do things our own way? Do we build our own idols? Do we look to the world for gratification?

We can learn from history. We can do things differently than those who came before us.

Or we can be doomed to repeat their mistakes.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Run the Race (1 Corinthians 9:24-27)

Today's scripture: 1 Corinthians 9:24-27

We are running a race towards an amazing, mind-boggling finish line. And despite what Paul writes, each of us can win the prize. Each of us who follow Christ will one day receive what Peter calls a “crown of glory” (1 Peter 5:4). We don’t know what these crowns will be like, but it appears our crowns are being—for lack of a better word—designed based on how we serve God and others while we’re here on earth (see Matthew 6:1-7; Luke 6:23; Luke 6:35; 2 John 1:8).

Our reward will be imperishable, eternal.

As I was meditating over these verses, something struck me … We’re not racing against anyone else. We’re not competing against anyone else. We don’t have to be concerned about where anyone else is as he runs his own race.

We can, instead, celebrate how everyone is running. And we can focus on making certain we’re running our own races with discipline and self-control. We can seek God’s will and follow His unique plan.

And we can know that, if we run well, if we serve God—heart, soul, mind, and strength—we’ll win the race … and receive the crown of glory. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Just Love ... (1 Corinthians 9:19-23)

Today's scripture: 1 Corinthians 9:19-23

How often do we really try to “walk in the shoes” of another? Instead of looking for what’s different, how often do we look for similarities?

Too often, we point fingers and judge rather than just love and being Christ.

Paul knew that caring for others and being “all things to all men” was important to attract unbelievers to Christ:

Though he would transgress no laws of Christ, to please any man, yet he would accommodate himself to all men, where he might do it lawfully, to gain some. Doing good was the study and business of his life; and, that he might reach this end, he did not stand on privileges. We must carefully watch against extremes, and against relying on anything but trust in Christ alone. We must not allow errors or faults, so as to hurt others, or disgrace the gospel. (Matthew Henry Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible)
We need to go where unbelievers are and love them. And if you think about it, isn’t that exactly what Jesus Himself did? Didn’t He eat with prostitutes and touch lepers’ wounds?

Just as He did, just as Paul did, we can love others so they can find the truth of the gospel.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Serving and Supporting Others (1 Corinthians 9:15-18)

Today's scripture: 1 Corinthians 9:15-18

Yesterday, we looked at how we who are not called to full time ministry can support those who are. However, in today’s verses, Paul reminds those who are in full time ministry to not expect a monetary reward. Their reward is knowing that God is using them to reach the unsaved or equip the saints.

They should preach or teach or share the gospel because they just can’t do anything else. It’s a compulsion, or as Webster’s Dictionary says, “
an irresistible persistent impulse to perform an act.” Serving God is life and breath to them.

However, full time ministers and missionaries do need to eat and drink, and they need roofs over their heads. So while they should have no expectations of monetary rewards, we are expected to support them financially.

It’s a wonderful symbiosis: they can do what God calls them to do, and we can support their calling.

The most important result? Lives are changed for God.

Monday, March 09, 2015

Supporting Others (1 Corinthians 9:8-14)

Today's scripture: 1 Corinthians 9:8-14

Some followers of Christ are called to full time ministry: pastors, teachers, evangelists, missionaries. They devote their lives to serving God, to reaching the unsaved, to supporting the “least of these,” and to equip the saints.

Those whom God has called to serve Him full time have needs, those same needs we looked at yesterday.

They need to have those needs met as well.

We who are not called to full time ministry have a wonderful privilege of supporting those who are. We can contribute to godly ministries. We can tithe to our local churches. We can financially support missionaries.

When we give a portion of what God’s given us to meet our needs, we help to meet the needs of God’s full time servants as well.

It truly is a privilege because we have a small part in growing God’s kingdom when we support those who have committed their lives to serve Him and others. When we help to provide for their needs, we allow them to focus on their calling.

What a blessing!

Friday, March 06, 2015

Our Rights (1 Corinthians 9:3-7)

Today's scripture: 1 Corinthians 9:3-7

As followers of Christ, we have the “right” to take care of ourselves and our families. We have the “right” to work and to enjoy the fruit of our labor.

We have a few precious “needs” in life. We need water. We need food. We need shelter.

Most of us meet those needs by working. Some people work the land, and they have the right to eat some of what they grow. Some raise animals, and they have the right to enjoy milk or meat. Others work at various jobs to earn a paycheck.

In any case, our ability to work comes from God—our skills, our talents, our energy.

The other need? We really are created for relationships, and for some of us, that means marriage. We’ve already talked a lot about marriage over the last few weeks, but we have that right, if God has led us there. But even married or not, we need friends. We need people to whom we can go when things are difficult—and with whom we can celebrate during times of joy.

God provides the means for meeting our needs. We merely need to do what He’s called us to do.

Thursday, March 05, 2015

True Freedom (1 Corinthians 9:1-2)

Today's scripture: 1 Corinthians 9:1-2

Freedom. It’s a fundamental desire of all humanity. We weren’t created for slavery of any kind. When we feel confined, we strive to shake off whatever binds us.

Yet even if we’re free of any earthly constraints, so many are bound by sin. We are, in fact, slaves of sin. Jesus said, “
Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin” (NKJV, John 8:34).

Addictions. Sexual sin. Greed. Anger.

Freedom, true freedom, comes from faith in Christ. Paul wrote to the Roman Christians: “…
thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness” (6:17-18).

When we’re in Christ, we are free from the repercussions of sin. We’re free to live according to God’s will. We’re free to serve our God who loves more than we can truly comprehend.

And we who are in Christ must not continue to live in habitual sin because He saved us from that sin: “
It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1).

Indeed, our being freed from sin should cause us to joyfully and gratefully serve God and others: “For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another” (Galatians 5:13).

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Don't Make Another Stumble (1 Corinthians 8:7-13)

Today's scripture: 1 Corinthians 8:7-13

Yesterday, we addressed the issue of man-made gods and idols. Today’s verses, at first, don’t seem to fit. What does food have to do with being a Christ-follower?

To offer a bit more clarity, I visited one of my favorite commentaries:
Eating one kind of food, and abstaining from another, have nothing in them to recommend a person to God. But the apostle cautions against putting a stumbling-block in the way of the weak; lest they be made bold to eat what was offered to the idol, not as common food, but as a sacrifice, and thereby be guilty of idolatry. He who has the Spirit of Christ in him, will love those whom Christ loved so as to die for them. Injuries done to Christians, are done to Christ; but most of all, the entangling them in guilt: wounding their consciences, is wounding him. We should be very tender of doing anything that may occasion stumbling to others, though it may be innocent in itself. And if we must not endanger other men's souls, how much should we take care not to destroy our own! Let Christians beware of approaching the brink of evil, or the appearance of it, though many do this in public matters, for which perhaps they plead plausibly. Men cannot thus sin against their brethren, without offending Christ, and endangering their own souls. (Matthew Henry Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible)

We must do nothing that might cause a brother or sister in Christ to stumble or fall away from faith.

We must be aware of how we act and the choices we make. We must be careful of what we say. Others are watching us, and if we do anything that might cause another Christian to stumble, we sin against Christ.

And as Paul writes elsewhere, may that never be!

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

No God but One (1 Corinthians 8:4-6)

Today's scripture: 1 Corinthians 8:4-6

“… there is no God but one.”

Some belief systems believe in many gods. This concept dates back to shortly after Adam and Eve were expelled from the garden.

Man seeks something higher than himself. There’s something in us that desires a power above us … something that we can believe in, something we can trust. Sometimes that desire manifests itself in worshiping the created rather than the Creator. Some people worship the sun or trees or oceans.

Or they create their own god—or gods. The Romans had Zeus and Jupiter (among many others). The Greeks had Jupiter and Neptune (… among many others). But their gods—and the gods of many other beliefs—were impersonal, distant.

Our God—the one true God of the Bible—is personal and loving and compassionate. He is full of mercy and grace. As we saw yesterday, He knows us, and He wants to be known by us.

Our Abba invites us to crawl on His lap and seek shelter in His arms. Our Lord Jesus came to earth and took on human flesh in order to provide for us a way of salvation and reconciliation with God. Our Holy Spirit indwells us and helps us to face the daily battle we face.

Paul says it better than I ever could:

 … yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him.
Amen and amen.

Monday, March 02, 2015

Knowing God (1 Corinthians 8:1-3)

Today's scripture: 1 Corinthians 8:1-3

“Knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies.”

So often unbelievers say they can’t accept the Christian faith until they know more. They want all their questions answered before they commit. They want to have all the mysteries explained.

My answer to them is two-fold: First, the Holy Spirit illuminates God’s word for believers and helps us better understand what God is trying to say to us (see 1 Corinthians 2:14;
2 Corinthians 4:3); second, even for believers, there is so much of the Bible that remains a mystery. And that’s as it should be. I don’t want to serve a God whom I can fully know. Because if I know as He knows, then that would make me like Him.

And I am not God.

I read and study and meditate on God’s word every day because I want to know Him more. Not because I want to be Him, but because I love Him. Just as I want to spend time with my husband because I love him.

I love God, and I am known by Him. And in His infinite grace and mercy and love for me, He wants me to know Him as well.

So I do have knowledge of Him. I do know how holy and just and righteous He is. I do know He can’t coexist with sin. I do know He offers grace and mercy to those who seek Him. I do know He put a plan of redemption in place—for me. I do know that Jesus Christ will return one day to gather His followers to heaven. I do know that we will spend eternity in a new heaven and new earth (Revelation21:1).

Because He loves us.

I don’t need to know every nuance of God. I don’t have to understand every single word of every single verse of His word.

The Holy Spirit will reveal to me what I need to know. Because God—Father, Son, and Spirit—loves me that much.