Thursday, April 30, 2015

Hold Fast to the Gospel (1 Corinthians 15:1-2)

Today's scripture: 1 Corinthians 15:1-2

As most of us know, “gospel” means good news. Specifically, it means the good news of salvation through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus Himself said that He—and only He—is the “way and the truth and the life.” He also said that “no one comes to the Father but through [Him]” (John 14:6).

This is the gospel Paul preached with passion and diligence … and for which he was willing to give his own life. And he definitely practiced what he preached.

He received the gospel when he met Jesus on the road to Damascus. Yes, he had a supernatural encounter that few of us have, but when he was faced with the truth of the risen Savior, He accepted that truth.

He stood by and held fast the gospel, devoting his life to sharing the truth throughout his known world. And He suffered for that gospel: In addition to being imprisoned countless times, he wrote, “F
ive times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren …” (2 Corinthians 11:24-25).

When we look at “receiving,” most Christians would say that, of course, they received the gospel. That’s why they’re Christians.

But what about standing by and holding fast? Have I devoted my life to sharing the gospel with my known world? Am I willing to suffer for it? Is God—Father, Son, and Spirit—the number-one priority in my life? Do I live to glorify Him by my speech, thoughts, and actions?

What about you?

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Greatest Is Love (1 Corinthians 13:8-13)

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

Love is the only thing that will endure. Love for God. Love for others. Anything else we do on earth will “be done away” and “cease.” All spiritual gifts that God has given us to build His kingdom will also cease. Because when we stand face-to-face with our Father, we will have fulfilled His purpose on earth, and prayerfully, we’ll hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

And while we may understand some of God’s purpose and will while we’re here, one day, we will “know fully just as [we] have been fully known.” The mirror into which we now see dimly will be clear.

So while we’re on earth, we need to love as Jesus loves. With patience, kindness, mercy, and grace. We need to love our brothers and sisters in Christ. We need to love unbelievers and show them the love of Christ. And we need to love our God—Father, Son, and Spirit—heart, soul, mind, and strength.

For, indeed, the greatest of all things is love.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Love Endures All Things (1 Corinthians 13:7)

Today's scripture: 1 Corinthians 13:7

Love endures all things.

For the last 14 days, we’ve looked at different attributes of love as described by the apostle Paul. This last attribute reminds me that true loving relationships are marathons, not sprints. They’re enduring, long-lasting, strong. This is especially true—or should be—in marriage.

Our world would tell us that love is all passion, and when the passion dies, so does love. Passion is a sprint. And it does ebb and flow. So if your focus is on passion, you’ll hit the finish line and then think it’s all over. Thus the tragic divorce statistics we see.

Love is so much more than passion. Love is intimacy—emotional, spiritual, and physical. It's being there for your mate. It's loving him or her with patience, kindness, without arrogance ... All those things we've been talking about.

Yes, Russ and I have been married 27 years, and believe me, there have been times when passion has stagnated. There have even been times when I really didn’t like what Russ did—and wondered “Who are you and what are you doing in my house?” It was during those times when I chose to love him.

Russ is my best friend. He’s the one who knows me inside and out—and loves me anyway. He’s the one who puts up with my bad moods (yes, I do have them occasionally!), who supports my passion for ministry, who cooks yummy meals, and whom I know will be there for me no matter what.

Our love has endured. If you’re married, please don’t listen to the world’s lies. The grass really isn’t greener on the other side. It’s probably just Astroturf—a facsimile of the real thing. And if you aren't married yet, but hope to be some day, remember these words. Remember to focus on the marathon, not the sprint

Choose to love your mate. Love, honor, and cherish, even through the difficult times, even through those times when your mate just isn’t lovable.

Run the race. Finish the marathon.


Monday, April 27, 2015

Love Hopes All Things (1 Corinthians 13:7)

Today's scripture: 1 Corinthians 13:7

Love hopes all things.

Hope is one of my favorite words. Hope. Anticipation.

I especially like Webster’s definition: to “cherish a desire with anticipation” or to “expect with confidence.”

When we love with hope, we anticipate good things from and with the ones we love. We have confidence in their love for us. We hope for a bright future.

Russ and I have been together for over 30 years, and just celebrated our 27th wedding anniversary last week. I still anticipate what’s ahead. I still “expect with confidence” that we have amazing times in store for us. And my hope is that we’ll love each other even more through the coming years!

We Christians live with an even greater hope: eternity in heaven with our Lord God. Talk about “cherish[ing] a desire with anticipation”! I desire nothing more than shedding this earthly skin and being in the very presence of my Lord and Savior. I live in hope for that day.

Where is your hope? Can you really “expect with confidence” the things of this world? Certainly, you can place your hope in trusted people on earth, but your hope—your only real hope—should be in the One who will never leave you or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5). The One who loves you with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3).

Place your hope in Him.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Love Believes All Things (1 Corinthians 13:7)

Today's scripture: 1 Corinthians 13:7

Love believes all things.

I spoke at an event a while ago, and I said that the one attribute of love that was missing from Paul’s list was, “Love is trustworthy.” After meditating on the words we’re focusing on today, I think I may be wrong. Today’s attribute is close.

If I love someone—truly love him—I’ll believe the best of him. I’ll believe he’ll do his best. He’ll be loyal and kind. He’ll be faithful to me. In fact, I’ll believe he’s worthy of my trust.

In return, I need to be the same for him. This is the relationship I’m blessed to have with my husband. I know he’ll be faithful to me. I know he’ll love me through sickness and health, good times and bad, riches and poverty … because, in 27 years of marriage, he has.

So I can believe he’ll be the same in the next year or five or ten.

Love isn’t blind. That’s certain. If someone has clear issues—anger, a tendency to belittle, a history of infidelity—you should avoid an intimate relationship.  However, if he has proven himself to be faithful, then you can trust him.

You can believe in him.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Love Bears All Things (1 Corinthians 13:7)

Today's scripture: 1 Corinthians 13:7

Love bears all things.

Love—true love—puts up with everything ... well, almost. I’m not saying we’re to be doormats or allow abuse, but we should be willing to bear our spouses' bad moods or our kids’ testiness. We shouldn’t get angry when friends forget a coffee date. We should instead love them.

Love is a noun and a verb, you know. We have a feeling of love (noun), but we choose to actively love (verb). I can’t remember where I read it, but the author wrote how a man came to him and said he didn’t love his wife any more. “What should I do?” he asked. “Just love her.” Confused, the man said again, “But I don’t love her.” And again, the reply was, “Just love her.”  This went on a couple of more times, and the man was told to just go and love his wife. And a marriage was restored.

We choose to love—the verb—even when those around us aren’t being very loveable. That’s why parents can say, “I don’t like what you’ve done, but I still love you.”

My mom is a prime example of that kind of love. For a very long time, I did a lot of things that my mom did not like, things that broke her heart, but she never stopped loving me. Today, there may be things my husband does that I don’t like, but I love him. I choose to love him every day.

Think of how Jesus loves us. I imagine He doesn’t like a lot of what we do, but He loves us. He loved us enough that “while [we] were still sinners, [He] died for us” (Rom. 5:8).

That’s what it means to bear all things. All things.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Love ... Rejoices With the Truth (1 Corinthians 13:6)

Today's scripture: 1 Corinthians 13:6

Love does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth.

Of all the attributes Paul describes, this one should be the easiest for those of us who follow Christ. We should never rejoice in unrighteousness. Sin should never be celebrated. As I write these words, I’m convicted—yet again. How often do I watch a television show or movie that revels in sin? More often than I care to admit.

Sin breaks the heart of my heavenly Father. It should do the same to mine. And yet, I laugh it off as though it doesn’t matter. I, dare I say, rejoice in unrighteousness.

Oh, as Paul would say, may that never be!

My rejoicing should only come when I see God work in lives. When I see people make a stand for faith. When someone begins a relationship with Jesus. When people grow in faith. When they use their God-given gifts.

When truth wins out.

Only then I should plan a party and celebrate.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Love .... Forgives (1 Corinthians 13:5)

Today's scripture: 1 Corinthians 13:5

Love does not take into account a wrong suffered.

In other words, love doesn’t hold a grudge. Love doesn’t seek revenge. Rather, love forgives, even when the other person hurts us deeply.

Forgiveness isn’t approval of the other person’s actions. It doesn’t condone wrongdoing. It doesn’t mean we have to let a person who wronged us into our daily lives. No. Forgiveness takes the burden of anger and bitterness off of our own shoulders. It allows us to love as Christ loved—loving the sinner without loving the sin.

Does this sound too unrealistic to be true? How can I forgive someone who’s abused me or taken what’s mine—or even killed my child?

It is possible with the strength of our Lord Jesus Christ. I know. The primary reason for my twenty-year rebellion was because I couldn’t—or wouldn’t—forgive those who had hurt me. My father for leaving us. Three adult men for abusing me.

My unforgiveness allowed hate and anger to fill my heart. It caused me to be miserable and pushed me into depression. Finally, when I just couldn’t take life any more, I found my way back to the arms of my heavenly Father, and with His strength, I was able to forgive. Those who hurt me never asked for my forgiveness, and my doing so didn’t say what they’d done was okay. But my being able to say “I forgive you” with a sincere heart lifted the burden that had so consumed my heart.

Holding a grudge or seeking revenge does nothing but destroy your own heart. There’s a saying that describes this well: “Anger [or unforgiveness] is like taking poison and expecting the other person to die.”

Don’t “take into account a wrong suffered.” Rather, ask Jesus to give you the strength to forgive. 

Monday, April 20, 2015

Love Is Not Provoked (1 Corinthians 13:5)

Today's scripture: 1 Corinthians 13:5

Love is not provoked.

Good old Webster defines provoke as “to incite to anger” or “to stir up purposely.”

If you’ve been in a relationship for any length of time—and by relationship, I mean family or friendship or romance—you probably know that other person very well. You know what brings him joy, and you know what drives him nuts.

And you know how to push his buttons.

My husband and I have been married for just over 27 years (together for over 30), and we know each other deeply. And yes, we know how to drive each other crazy—if we choose to do so. Sad to say, we sometimes make that choice. Fortunately, the longer we’re together, the less we provoke each other. And when we do, we ask for forgiveness much more quickly.

But I have to ask myself, why do we provoke those we love? If we fail to be without pride, we’re only hurting ourselves. But if we provoke another, we’re hurting them.

I don’t know for sure, but I have a theory. I think it may have to do with our own feelings of low self-esteem. If we’re not terribly confident in ourselves, we may provoke others to gain a false feeling of superiority.

Which brings us back to Paul’s words to the Philippians … If we love others, we’re going to do “ … nothing through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself” (2:3).

I hadn’t thought about it before, but today’s attribute really builds on those that precede it: If we’re patient, if we’re kind, if we’re not boastful or arrogant, then we won’t need to put others down or provoke them to anger.

We won’t need to push their buttons because we’ll lovingly esteem them. 

Friday, April 17, 2015

Love Does Not Seek Its Own (1 Corinthians 13:5)

Today's scripture: 1 Corinthians 13:5

Love does not seek its own.

As we’ve looked at these attributes of love, I’ve tried to keep our hearts and minds on loving how Christ loves. And Jesus definitely doesn’t seek His own—never did, never will. In fact, He was so focused on the needs of others, He gave His very life for them ... for us.

Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (NKJV, John 15:13).

While we may never be asked to literally die for our friends, are there ways we can serve the needs of others rather than seeking our own desires?

How do you spend your time? When you have free time, are you sitting in front of a computer, playing games or just surfing around? Do you watch hours of inane television? Is the latest issue of People magazine adorning your coffee table?

Believe me, I'm asking the same questions of myself.

We’ve been given the amazing gift of time, and how we use it can illustrate how we love. I’ve been very convicted—yet again—of how I spend my time. I really do want to steward my time in order to delight God, and I know He’s delighted when I serve others, when I shine the light of Jesus to a dark world.

When I sacrifice my time to mentor a young woman who's struggling, when I give up a little leisure time to volunteer at a God-serving organization, when I’m on my knees—literally or figuratively—interceding on the behalf of others, then My Father is well-pleased.

No, I may not be dying a physical death, but when I seek to serve the needs of others, I sacrifice a bit of myself.

And by doing so, I love a bit more like Christ does.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Love Does Not Act Unbecomingly (1 Corinthians 13:5)

Today's scripture: 1 Corinthians 13:5

Love does not act unbecomingly.

Unbecomingly. Not a word we use in our daily vocabulary, I’d wager. There’s a nice old-fashioned ring to it, so I had to check out old Webster. Unbecoming means to behave in a way “not according with the standards appropriate to one's position or condition of life.”

Both the New Living Translation and the Contemporary English Version use the word “rude.”

We as Christians should never be rude. And that can mean a couple of things. Rudeness connotes treating others in an “offensive manner.” It also can mean being “vulgar” in speech and action.

Think about how you interact with other people. Do you enjoy telling off-color jokes or using the latest profanity? Do you delight in pointing out the failings in others?

Or do you walk away when others gossip or put people down? Do you avoid using words that are offensive?

I picture Jesus sitting with a group of society’s disreputable. I picture His loving them and showing them kindness. But I do not picture Him laughing at their infirmities or failures. I do not picture Him peppering His speech with swear words.

And as we’ve talked about since we started looking at the attributes of love, we need to strive to love as He did.

Today, watch what you say and do.  And love as Christ loves. 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Love Is Not Arrogant (1 Corinthians 13:4)

Today's scripture: 1 Corinthians 13:4

Love is not arrogant.

Other versions say, “love is not proud.”  Love means not thinking too highly of oneself. Paul defines this so well in Philippians 2:3-4:

Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.
Lowliness of mind doesn’t mean we’re to be doormats; rather, it means we’re to love as Christ loved, with a servant’s heart: 
Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. (Phil. 2:5-8)
Loving without arrogance requires an attitude of humility.

Are you able to truly rejoice in the blessings others experience? Are you willing to serve in the background if that’s what God calls you to do? Will you serve as Christ did, with a humble servant’s heart?

Then you’ll love without being arrogant.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Love Does Not Brag (1 Corinthians 13:4)

Today's scripture: 1 Corinthians 13:4

Love does not brag.

True love is never about me. True love is my looking out for others, caring for others, supporting others. 

If I truly love someone, I shouldn’t be thinking about myself and what I can do. And if my thoughts aren’t on me, then I won‘t be bragging on my accomplishments. In fact, I really won’t care about what I do that’s “newsworthy.” I’ll be content to stay in the background. And when I do have the opportunity to be in the limelight, I won’t go around telling everyone.

This can be tough. Sometimes, we get excited about a God-given chance to shine. I have the privilege of performing on stage periodically. Sometimes I get to play a more principal role; sometimes I’m “just” in the ensemble. I have to be very careful. Sometimes I walk a very, very fine line between bragging about my part in a play and just wanting people to come out to see a talented cast of storytellers. No matter what I’m doing, the question is, will I “publicize” each and every play in the same way? Will I brag on the principal actors and be just as excited to have people come see a show when I’m not a lead?

I pray this is so! Because, when I love others, I should want to boast about them. 

What about you? Are you boasting in your own accomplishments? Are you telling everyone how wonderful you are? Or are you content to stand back and let others shine? And tell everyone how wonderful they are?

Monday, April 13, 2015

Love is Not Jealous (1 Corinthians 13:4)

Today's scripture: 1 Corinthians 13:4

Love is not jealous.

I have to be honest here … I sometimes struggle with this one.  I see someone doing something I think I should be doing, and I’m envious. I read Facebook status updates about children or travels or amazing opportunities, and that nasty green-eyed monster raises its ugly head.

I don’t want to feel this way. I want to truly rejoice in the talents and achievements of others. I want to be genuinely happy when others have things I never will.

I really do.

Why do we feel jealous or envious? I think it has to do with contentment—or lack thereof. When I’m discontent with my own life, I’m much more likely to be envious of what others have. Conversely, when I’m content and satisfied with what I have and what I can do, I don’t even think about what others do.

It also has to do with trusting God. If I believe He’s blessed each of us according to His plan, I don’t have to be jealous because I know what I have, what I can do, what I’ve achieved is what He desires for me.

As I write these words, I recognize yet again how very blessed I am. I have a wonderful husband, a great family, supportive friends, several vocations I enjoy. My  husband and I just fulfilled a long-held dream of mine and moved to our newly-adopted state of Tennessee, and we are in the process of finding a new home … one that will be lovely and comfortable.

I have no right—none whatsoever—to be jealous or envious. None. Because when I am, I’m telling God He hasn’t given me enough—when He’s given me abundantly more than I deserve.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Love is Kind (1 Corinthians 13:4)

Today's scripture: 1 Corinthians 13:4

Love is kind.

Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines “kind” as “affectionate and loving; of a sympathetic or helpful nature; of a forbearing nature; gentle.” Further, “gentle” is defined as “free from harshness, sternness, or violence.”

When we love, we’re to be kind. We’re to sympathize when our loved one is hurting. We’re to have a servant’s heart, desiring to help him when he’s in need. We’re to be patient (see yesterday’s devotional) when he’s not behaving as we would like.

And we’re to be gentle. Being harsh with the ones we love isn’t acceptable. And especially, there can be no hint of violence, physical or otherwise. Blowing up in anger at the ones we say we love is not love. Treating them harshly or rudely, even “jokingly” is not love. Putting them down—whether alone or with others—is not love.

Sometimes, we treat the ones we say we love worse than we do acquaintances or outright strangers. But that’s not really love.

Today, as you interact with your family and friends, ask the Lord to give you a spirit of kindness. Be loving and affectionate. Serve them without being asked. And if anger is an issue, pray—fervently pray—that the Lord will calm your spirit so you can be kindly loving. 

Today and every day.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Love is Patient (1 Corinthians 13:4)

Today's scripture: 1 Corinthians 13:4

Normally, I cover several verses in one devotional. But 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 need a more in-depth review, so for the next 14 days, we’re going to take a closer look at Paul’s descriptions of love. I know these words are read at engagement parties and weddings, and I don’t know about you, as I read these words, I’m somewhat—make that I’m a lot—overwhelmed. How in the world can anyone be all that Paul described?

The only person I know who manifested every one of them was Jesus—is Jesus. So let’s look at how Jesus was love. And let’s think about how we can love just a little more like He does.

Love is patient.

Oh dear. Do we have to start here? Patience isn’t necessarily the fruit of the Spirit I manifest most often. But Jesus is indeed patient, and we can be as well when we remember that this life is temporary. What happens here is temporary. What we have is temporary. Eternity with Jesus should be our focus.

Think about it. Why are we impatient? Because we want something right now. We want that job. That relationship. That car. That house.  Now.  And when we don’t get it in our timing, according to our plan, we get a bit upset—to put it lightly.

We can’t love—certainly not as Christ did—when we’re feeling impatient.

I think patience has a lot to do with trust. If I trust God, I can patiently wait on His timing, knowing He’ll work everything according to His plan (Romans 8:28). If I trust someone, patience comes relatively easy because I know she has my best interests at heart. I trust my husband, so I can be patient even if he isn't moving as quickly as I like.

Be patiently loving today, just as Christ is. Those you love may be pleasantly surprised!

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

A More Excellent Way (1 Corinthians 12:31b-13:3)

Today's scripture: 1 Corinthians 12:31b-13:3

We’ve been talking a lot about spiritual giftedness over the last several days. How we should use our gifts. How we’re all a part of the body of Christ’s. How each of us should work together in order to serve God. How we are to reach others with the gospel.

But our gifts aren’t worth anything if they’re not founded on love. God is love, and everything He does is founded on His great love for us. We, in turn, should use the gifts with which He’s blessed us to serve Him and others in love.

The apostle John, the one whom Christ loved, writes, “
My dear friends, we must love each other. Love comes from God, and when we love each other, it shows that we have been given new life. We are now God's children, and we know him” (CEV, 1 John 4:7).

Serving God and using His gifts is a “more excellent way.” And it’s really a matter of heart and motivation. We can preach with fervency, teach with great knowledge, open our homes for fellowship, or offer mercy to the “least of these.” However, if we don’t do these with love—genuine love—for God and others, all we do “profits [us] nothing.”

In other words, it won’t bring kingdom-building results.

We must, as Jesus said, “… ‘LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH.’ The second is this, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ There is no other commandment greater than these” (NASB, Mark 12:30-31).

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

The Importance of ALL Gifts (1 Corinthians 12:27-31a)

Today's scripture: 1 Corinthians 12:27-31a

Paul writes extensively about giftedness in this chapter, and today’s verses sum up his argument:
Each is a member of the body, not the whole body; each stands related to the body as a part of it, and all have a common relation to one another, dependence upon one another, and should have a mutual care and concern … This were to make the church a monster: all one as if the body were all ear or all eye. Some are fit for one office and employment, and some for another; and the Spirit distributes to everyone as he will. We must be content with our own rank and share, if they be lower and less than those of others. We must not be conceited of ourselves, and despise others, if we are in the higher rank and have greater gifts. Every member of the body is to preserve its own rank, and do its own office; and all are to minister to one another, and promote the good of the body in general, without envying, or despising, or neglecting, or ill-using, any one particular member. How blessed a constitution were the Christian church, if all the members did their duty! (Matthew Henry Complete Commentary of the Whole Body)

Even though all gifts are important, and we shouldn’t look down on “lesser gifts” (see yesterday’s devotional), Paul

closes this chapter with an advice (as the generality read it) and a hint: An advice to covet the best gifts, charismata ta kreittona--dona potiora, præstantiora, either the most valuable in themselves or the most serviceable to others; and these are, in truth, most valuable in themselves, though men may be apt to esteem those most that will raise their fame and esteem highest. Those are truly best by which God will be most honoured and his church edified. Such gifts should be most earnestly coveted. (Matthew Henry)

Monday, April 06, 2015

Healthy Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:18-26)

Today's scripture: 1 Corinthians 12:18-26

A healthy body is one whose parts work together just as God intended. Eyes, ears, hands, feet. All working together so the entire body can function as it should. When one “member” doesn’t work correctly, the rest of the “members” often have to compensate. For example, when one is blind, his or her other senses often become more acute.

And so it is with the body of Christ.

Each member works together in order for the entire body to be healthy. Yet, just with the human body, some members seem “less” than others. We don’t think much about our big toes, for example. We don’t think they’re nearly as important as our ears, for instance. And yet, if you’ve ever had a broken toe, you know how in inhibits your ability to walk well.

We sometimes think the same of our positions in the body of Christ. I’m not a preacher, you say. I just greet people once a month. But think about it: If you’re the first person someone visiting your church sees, you can have a tremendous impact on how they view your church … and even how they view Christians, in general.

We are all important in God’s eyes. We have value. Tremendous value. And if we all work together, doing exactly what God called us to do, then Christ’s body will be healthy.

And if His body is healthy, made up of healthy members doing what they’ve been called to do, then this world will be impacted positively for Christ.

So, I guess my question is: How healthy are you? Are you strong, doing what you’ve been called to do? Or do you need a checkup?

Friday, April 03, 2015

We Need Each Other (1 Corinthians 12:14-17)

Today's scripture: 1 Corinthians 12:14-17

Those of us who follow Christ are part of His body, His church. And each of us has been gifted uniquely to serve Him. Each of us is important as God uses us to build His kingdom.

Sometimes, though, we put gifts on a hierarchy, thinking that one gift is somehow better than another. We think that preachers and evangelists are more important because they’re up front. And we think that our gifts of mercy or faith just don’t rank as highly.

God’s word makes it clear: We are many parts of one body. And each part plays a very important role in God’s plan.

Preachers help us to better understand God’s word, but they need to be encouraged. And what would your local pastor do without those who have been gifted with administration?

I greatly admire those who have gifts other than mine. I do not have the gift of hospitality, but I’m exceedingly grateful to those who do. So often, I’m blessed to speak at events where the room is decorated beautifully and the ambiance is welcoming—and that’s because women who are truly gifted have put their heart and souls into making the event a wonderful experience.

Just as the body needs each and every part, we need each other. 

Thursday, April 02, 2015

All the Same (1 Corinthians 12:12-13)

Today's scripture: 1 Corinthians 12:12-13

In Christ, we are all the same. Exactly the same.

God sees us equally. He doesn’t see race or gender or socio-economic status. He doesn’t look at age or geography or education. He doesn’t care about how many years we’ve been following Him or what kind of ministry in which we serve.

He just sees us as His children. His dearly-loved children.

And so should we see each other. No one is better than any other in God’s family (we’ll talk more about that in the next couple of days). We’re all brothers and sisters whose goal should be to help others come to faith in Christ.

Our heart should be to reach all people—all people. No matter where they come from or what they’ve done, all people need Jesus. All people need to be confident they can be saved from their sins. That they can spend eternity with Christ.

We cannot pick and choose to whom we share the gospel. Just as God desires that all people come to faith, so should we. And once they’ve come to know Him, we should love each brother and sister equally.

Just as God does. 

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

A New Leg of the Journey ...

Today, Russ and I begin a new leg of our journey together, so rather than writing a devotional, I ask that you join me in prayer.

After a lifetime in Southern California, we are packing up and heading east. In a few days, we will be arriving at our temporary home in Knoxville, Tennessee. It’s been a long time in coming, and we couldn’t be more excited.

I ask for prayer as we travel for the next five or six days. I ask for prayer as we stay temporarily in the basement apartment of a colleague from Liberty. I ask for prayer as we search for a new home.

I ask for prayer as Russ finds a new hobby or job or endeavor that will bring him great joy. I ask for prayer for a Bible-teaching church. I ask for prayer for a circle of friends.

Above all, I ask for prayer for God’s will in all things. I ask for prayer that each step, each decision will bring Him glory.

Thank you, my friends!

(And, by the way, this is not an April Fool's joke!)