Saturday, April 30, 2016

Spiritual imitation of our spiritual fathers

14I am writing this not to shame you but to warn you as my dear children. 15Even if you had ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. 16Therefore I urge you to imitate me. 17For this reason I have sent to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church. (1 Corinthians 4:14-17)

Thoughts: Paul is their spiritual father- he brought them the faith.  He is asking them to return to their first love- and the Gospel as it was presented.  He also wants them to leave the false teaching that immorality is okay- and return to what is right.  To do this, he asks them to imitate him, their spiritual father.  We too are called back to imitate those who brought the faith to us today.  

Prayer: Lord, let me learn good things from those who brought me the gospel.  Help me to imitate their work and their faith.  

Friday, April 29, 2016

The Truly Honorable

8Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! You have begun to reign—and that without us! How I wish that you really had begun to reign so that we also might reign with you! 9For it seems to me that God has put us apostles on display at the end of the procession, like those condemned to die in the arena. We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe, to angels as well as to human beings. 10We are fools for Christ, but you are so wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are honored, we are dishonored! 11To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless. 12We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; 13when we are slandered, we answer kindly. We have become the scum of the earth, the garbage of the world—right up to this moment. (1 Corinthians 4:8-13)

Thoughts: The Apostles changed the world.  The word "apostle" means "sent one"- almost "missionary."  Paul was talking here about how they had nothing, were persecuted, and are treated as fools for Christ.   To some this may seem like a backwards brag- a bit of sarcasm.  But the other side of this is that Paul is teaching them how to behave- to endure humiliation for the cause of Christ.  It was a bit of a rebuke to them for wanting to be considered worldly-wise, honored, and wealthy.  Paul was saying they need to give this up here.  We too need to give this up to truly follow Christ.  When we walk by faith and not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7), God does indeed reward us.  

Prayer: Lord, let me live like an apostle.  Keep me from seeking honor for myself and instead give all the glory to you.   

Thursday, April 28, 2016

The Famous are But a Lie

6Now, brothers and sisters, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying, “Do not go beyond what is written.” Then you will not be puffed up in being a follower of one of us over against the other. 7For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not? (1 Corinthians 4:6,7)

Psalm 62:9- The lowborn are but a breath; the highborn are but a lie. If weighed on a balance, they are nothing. 

1 Cor. 3:5- What after all is Apollos?  And what is Paul?  Only servants. 

Thoughts: Paul knew that he is nothing and Apollos is nothing.  The people who elevate others to celebrity status are missing something.  There is only one God.  To elevate people to god-like status (think American "Idol") does no favor to the people elevated or to the ones who elevate them.  We lose perspective when we make human heroes gods.  Everything we have is a gift from God.  Everyone who is human is human.  

Prayer: Lord, let me keep others- even the popular or famous in perspective.  

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

A Place for Judgment

 3I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. 4My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. 5Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God.

Thoughts: We do not think about judgment much today- even though we are much closer to judgment day than the early Christians were.  Most today only know, "Judge not lest ye be judged."  Then we use that as an excuse to avoid any kind of discernment whatsoever.  But Paul was quoting Jesus' words here that what is hidden will be revealed  (Lk. 8:17).  When Jesus is revealed, who we really are is also revealed- good and bad.  We do not need to worry about human judgments which are limited.  Rather, we need to remember that God will one day hold us accountable.  We  do not need to have the illusion that we can hide things- even our darkest sin from God.  God not only hears our words and sees our actions- He also sees our motives.
     There are some good things that happen because God holds us accountable.
1) We are responsible.  This is not a bad thing.  Our behavior here is not irrelevant but matters. That what we do and what we believe here matters means that life matters- that it has meaning.  Those who say there is no judgment are cut loose to do what they want, but they are also cut loose from any kind of meaning.
2) The Good wins.  This allows us to try to be good even if we face temporary pain for it.  I don't have to be washed around by every wave of fad or comfort trying to fit in with people.  What is most important is my doing what is right and good and loving in God's eyes.  This means that ultimately love is better than hate.  For those who do not believe in a judgment- the hateful and loving both have the same end.  We can set our minds not just on our instincts (what the flesh desires), but on the Spirit (Romans. 8:5).
3) We do not need to seek revenge.  We can leave getting things right to God.  This means we can trust God and turn the other cheek.  For the secular, who don't believe in ultimate judgment, turning the other cheek, sacrificing yourself for your family or neighbor makes no sense.
4) We believe the one judging us is Christ.  There is no condemnation for those who believe for He came to pay our judgment fee (Mk. 10:45).  Romans 8:34-39- Christ is our judge and He came to give us life, so we who believe are set free from worrying about being condemned.  We are free to be good, to love, to give ourselves away for the One who gave Himself for us.    

Prayer: Lord let me be transparent with you and with myself.  Give me grace to depend on you and trust on your accountability and mercy.  

Goats on the left, sheep on the right.
(Mt. 25)

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Servant of Christ

1 Corinthians 4:1-2 This, then, is how you ought to regard us: as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the mysteries God has revealed. Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. 

Thoughts: Paul did not want to be known as someone magnificent, but as simp,y a servant.  A servant is trusted and is to be faithful.  We too should only make claim to the title "servant."  We are called to be Christ's obedient and faithful servant- and not see that as demeaning but as fulfilling.  To be a servant of the true King is to be on the right and winning side.

Prayer: Lord, help me to be your willing servant. 

Not Mere Human Beings

 For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans? 4For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not mere human beings?
 (1 Corinthians 3) 

Thoughts: Paul said when we get jealous we are "mere human beings."  We are called to be god-like, godly.   We are not called to act like regular people- like everyone else.  We are not called to take a poll to see what everyone else should do and then go that way.  That will only get us as far as mere human beings.  We are called by God to not be like animals and not even be like every other human being.  Regular people are taught to watch out for themselves, to care for number one because no one else will.  Regular people stay focused on their own needs and therefore jealousy and quarreling are sure to follow.  We are called to be more.  We are not called to be average or regular.  We are called to be god-like.  

Prayer: Lord, keep me from being mundane, bored and ordinary.  Let your grace call me above for your honor.

Mt. Olympus- God calls us up- beyond ourselves- beyond the flat average of life-
Beyond being merely human.
I will lift up my eyes to the mountains- where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord who made the heavens and the earth. Ps. 121

Monday, April 25, 2016

The Limits of Worldly Wisdom

18Do not deceive yourselves. If any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age, you should become “fools” so that you may become wise. 19For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness”a ; 20and again, “The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.”b 21So then, no more boasting about human leaders! All things are yours, 22whether Paul or Apollos or Cephasc or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, 23and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God. (1 Corinthians 3:18-23) 

Thoughts: The root cause of the dissension in the Corinthian church is twofold: immorality and pride (shown in elevation of worldly wisdom).  The Corinthians had a problem with sexual immorality (the Temple of Aphrodite the goddess of love was seen from everywhere in Corinth).  But the other problem was an emphasis on worldly wisdom and spiritual pride.
A) There was pride in their leaders.  One would say they followed Paul, Apollos or Cephas (Peter).
     But the leaders are not the Lord. All leaders must lay their crowns before His.
B) There was a pride in being crafty.  World wisdom puffs up- it doesn't build up.  Worldly wisdom looks down on others and this divides one group from the other.  Today, many look down on the other side.
C) All wisdom is slight compared to God's great knowledge and ability.  In wisdom He made the world and all its creatures (Psalm 104).  His power and wisdom is so much greater and eternal than ours.  Such thoughts should humble our pride and bring us together in humility before Him.  

Prayer: Lord, I bow my head before yours- my wisdom is nothing compared to yours.  Any wisdom I have is a gift from you- and I use what I have to honor You.  Help me to be humble in my thoughts before you.  

Sunday, April 24, 2016

The Church as the Temple

16Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?17If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple. (1 Corinthians 3:16-17)

Thoughts: God has dwelt in different places.  He lives in heaven- but even heaven cannot contain all of God.  In Moses' Day God dwelt in the tablernacle- a tent.  In Solomon's day- God dwelt in the Temple.  The Temple was destroyed in 70 AD by the Romans and in 587 BC by the Babylonians (for 70 years).  Where does God dwell on earth when He is not in the Temple.  Jesus Himself said that "where two or three are gathered together in my name- there am I in the midst of them"  Paul says God dwells in church- the worshiping people of God here.  In I Cor. 6:19 Paul speaks of the Spirit living in our bodies as the Temple of God.  The Church gathered is Christ's body- and the Spirit dwells in us as the Body of Christ.
    Here the Temple of God is the church, and the warning is to not divide the church- the people gathered.  We must care for the building up of the church and the cohesiveness- holding together of the Church.  What are you doing to tear down and disunite the church?  What are you sacrificing to keep the church united?  Today idealism, sectarian thought is tearing the church apart.  

Prayer: Lord, may I never harm your Temple.  Use me to build it up.  

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Turning Rummage into God's Handiwork

He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the trash dump; he seats them with princes and has them inherit a throne of honor. "For the foundations of the earth are the LORD's; on them he has set the world. (1 Samuel 2:8- part of Hannah's prayer of Thanksgiving for Samuel's birth; quoted in Psalm 113:7 and inferred in Mary's prayer when she found she was pregnant with Jesus).  

Thoughts:  God turns rummage into beautiful works of art.  He takes dust and makes beautiful human life out of it.  Today we had our PW Rummage Sale with hundreds of thousands of old cast away things that people didn't want or need, and turning that into scholarships for students in need, ways to help reach people for Christ or building up the church.  Over a thousand people would come and in the process find out where our church is, encounter a smile, and get an invitation to come back.
     God takes us- castaway by some or even by ourselves- and makes us new.  We who once were far from God- strangers (aliens) to Him are brought near.  We who were rubbish are made precious.  Like a glass artist can take old sand and turn it into beautiful stained glass.  This is the Gospel Message- except that it gets more specific on how He did it.  He came down to us- we rejected Him- treated Him as trash- unworthy to be alive.  But He rose from the dead in part to show us that what we devalue- He values- and He is able to bring new life to old dead things.  Maybe your life is dead- maybe all you valued is gone- and you see yourself as valueless.  He can take that and make it new again.  Trust Him. 

Prayer:  Lord, take my oldness and make it ever-new.  Make beautiful things again out of the dust. 

Watch this youtube video by Gungor: 

Friday, April 22, 2016

The Foundation

10By  the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. 11For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. 14If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. 15If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames. (1 Corinthians 3:10-15) 

Thoughts: Paul was a foundation guy.  He knew the foundation, and he laid many of them in many different places.  The basic part of the Christian life is not some technique or a prayer- but Jesus Christ himself.  Jesus spoke himself in a parable of the foolish builder who built on sand and the wise builder who built on the rock.  We are called to build out lives on the foundation that will last- that will not wash away.  Further, all ministers who come after church planters are called to continue the work so that the whole building is in line with the work of the foundation- Christ.  The "Day" is the day the Lord comes back and holds us to account.  Today Ann Graham Lotz, daughter of Billy Graham, thought that the Lord's coming back- this Day- would be soon.  She points to the founding again of Israel, the preaching of the gospel to every kingdom (Mt. 25:14), and the earthquakes and signs of our day as reminders that it could happen quick.  The work we do is the ministry we have- and each of us is a minister with our own individual calling.  What Paul is saying is that God sees and cares what we do- and the good work will be revealed in the end. 

Prayer: Lord, help me to do your good work.  Help me to continue the good work of those before me, and to lay a foundation for those who follow me.  

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Different Servants of the Same Lord

5What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. 6I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. 7So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. 8The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. 9For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building. (1 Corinthians 3)

Thoughts: God gives us all we see and He actually bears fruit through us, with us, and sometimes despite us.  We do not need to claim the credit, the glory or even the full blame.  Apollos and Paul were both gifted workers who helped the Corinthians get started.  But the Holy Spirit is the ultimate evangelist who awakens us, takes the blinders off, and makes us alive to God.  Paul did not elevate himself over Apollos here, but neither did he take a back seat.  It is not a competition caused by worldly jealousy that drives Paul.  He is anxious and thirst for God to have fruit through the people.  In doing this, he is teaching the Corinthians to also not be jealous or eaten up with who gets the credit.  

Prayer: Lord, may any glory I would receive go to you.  All that I am and have are gifts from you and therefore any good done through me is yours alone.  

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Spiritual or Carnal?

1Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly—mere infants in Christ. 2I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. 3You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans? (1 Corinthians 3)

Thoughts: The Corinthians believed, and had spiritual gifts, but they did not focus on the Spirit.  In Romans 8:9 Paul tells us "If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ." There is little doubt these folks had Christ, but the Spirit was dormant.  The Spirit keeps popping out in spiritual gifts, but was being quenched by their immorality and divisiveness.  What this tells us is that just because someone is a Christian it doesn't mean they do not have more growing to do- or that they are somehow made perfect.  Becoming a Christian is not the same as being perfected in heaven.  Paul was saying, we must be fed a little bit at a time until we can handle the growth that should take place.  The Corinthians were called worldly (carnal- KJV) not because they were all doing terrible things- but that they were divisive, jealous, and quarrelsome.  In the American church we often value right belief in every way as opposed to loving each other.  Similarly, people who talk about spiritual gifts to the destruction and detriment of the church, are not in step with the spirit.  We need the grace (charis) of patience in right belief, the grace of spiritual gifts (charismata), and the grace to turn away from the flesh and toward the Spirit.  We are called to not just have spiritual gifts, but to be filled with the Spirit.  Paul writes to those who are sanctified and calling on the name of Jesus (1 Coir. 1:2).  They are made holy because they have the Holy Spirit in them (1 Cor. 3:16), and this is evident when they come together for worship.  But they had a problem coming together.  In the American Church, we have a problem coming together- and thus we quench the Spirit.  The more we stay away from worship  and the more divisive we become, the more carnal we become.  Yes, it is possible for Christians- even those who have the Spirit- to be carnal and ignore the Spirit.  To be filled with the Spirit especially means to be filled with the greatest gift of all- love (1 Cor. 13:1).  I am convinced that a great part of being a Christian is loving the unlovable- those who are hard to love.  I am also convinced that most of us are hard to love.  Our sinfulness and carnality get in the way.  But when we are filled with the Spirit we love freely and learn to love the unlovable (as Christ loves us).  

Prayer: Lord, help me to love others and to live in step with your Spirit.  

Monday, April 18, 2016

The Spirit Helps us with the Wisdom of God

10these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.
The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. 11For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. 13This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words.c 14The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. 15The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, 16for,
“Who has known the mind of the Lord
so as to instruct him?”d
But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:10-15)

Thoughts: The Spirit is the Spirit of God.  Just as our own spirit goes to the deepest part of us, so the Holy Spirit goes to the deepest mysteries of God.  To be in tune or one with God's Spirit means to begin to fathom the deep understandings of God.  One of Paul's points here is that we tend to think only the smart and brilliant can understand life, but those who are one with God (no matter the education or IQ) can begin to understand the depths of God's love and the wisdom that sets the stars in place.  If we do not believe, and do not have this Spirit, we may understand much, but we cannot fully understand the things of God.  Much like a person who does not speak the language of a country will have a harder time understanding the richness of that country.  Those who do not believe are blind to some of the great things of God.  There are many who say they believe in God.  But it is different to know God and His Spirit.  There is a love there.  

Prayer: Lord, help me to listen to and for your Spirit.  Grant me wisdom to know and love you.  

Sunday, April 17, 2016

God's wisdom

6We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. 7No, we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. 8None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9However, as it is written:
“What no eye has seen,
what no ear has heard,
and what no human mind has conceived”b —
the things God has prepared for those who love him—
10these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.
The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. (1 Corinthians 2:6-10) 

Thoughts: The amazing claim is that we can know a bit of the mind of God- the wisdom of God.  It is a better type of wisdom than earthly knowledge.  The wisdom of God is foolishness to the intelligent.  It is meant to be a mystery.  A mystery understood not by education, but by faith.  We cannot begin to understand the blessings of God in this life or the life to come.  But the Spirit assures us of these blessings.  

Prayer: Lord, let me trust in your wisdom.  Let me walk by faith and not by sight.  

Friday, April 15, 2016

Not with Wisdom

1And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God.a 2For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. 4My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, 5so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power. (1 Corinthians 2:1-5)

Thoughts: Paul did not depend on himself.  He depended on God.  He came to Corinth in weakness,  Paul wanted to focus on God's power and strength.  The power of God is found in the sacrifice of God.  It is so ironic that it goes against all human wisdom.  The most powerful receded His power and even put His Son in the hands of evil people.
So today, we are not called to depend on our own abilities, but on God.  God gives us our ability and faith does not walk by wisdom or sight.  

Prayer: Lord, let me walk by faith and not by sight.  Let me listen to your wisdom instead of my own.  

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Boast in the Lord

1 Corinthians 1:26-31 Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” ( 1 Corinthians 1)

Thoughts: God chose us, not because we are great, but to show His love.  God rightly doesn't want us to boast.  There are some who think if the smartest, most handsome, prettiest, most athletic become believers then the world will see and be converted.  But here God chooses the lowly, the weak for Himself.  What counts is not our wisdom, but Christ's.  What counts is not our beauty, but the beauty of God coming for us that we might come to Him.  Our ability fades. But God's power lasts. 

Prayer: Lord you are beautiful.  You are wise and highly exalted.  Let me boast in you, for being united to you in love and faith is more important than all my earthly accomplishments.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

God's Wisdom not Ours

 17For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.
18For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19For it is written:
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;
the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”c
20Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?21For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength. (1 Corinthians 1)

Thoughts: Paul is educated, sitting at the feet of Gamaliel one of the greatest theological doctors of the Jewish first century.  Paul was a leader of the Pharisees, and some say he was on the Sanhedrin (leading religious ruling council in the country), or at least in line to get on the Sanhedrin.  Yet he recognizes that what counts in life is not human wisdom- the studies, the rhetoric, the logic, the theology.  Instead what counts is the truth- even if it seems illogical or even foolish.  The proud will always have a hard time humbling their mind before the cross.  The cross is too soft for keepers of the law- indicating that those who do not deserve it can have forgiveness.  The cross is messy and sacrifices don't make sense to those (like the Greeks) who want to earn their way by their wisdom and knowledge to salvation.  But if we are called by God and believe, there is available to us, a power and a wisdom that far exceeds anything we can self-generate on our own or together.  It is a power that can conquer death.  It is a wisdom that is true and right.  We do not rely too much on our own wisdom.  We must rely first and foremost on God's. 

Prayer: Lord, you are wise.  Help me to rely on your wisdom and power.  

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Christ i not Divided

13Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Paul? 14I thank God that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15so no one can say that you were baptized in my name. 16(Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don’t remember if I baptized anyone else.) 17For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. (1 Corinthians 1)

Thoughts: There is one Lord, one faith, on baptism (Eph. 4:5).  We are baptized into one name, and we should not divide that name.  All those who go to heaven will be one, and instead of trying to divide them now, we should be trying to unite people under the banner of the love of Christ. There is one cross- the cross of Christ that unites us in focus, love, and mission.  Christ is not divided, and the implication is that we should stop making artificial label barriers between us.  
There are no denominations in heaven.  There is no finger pointing, cliques, or party spirit in heaven.  We will all be one in Christ in heaven, and we should be one here.

Prayer:  Lord, it is easy to be divisive and hard to love others. Help me to follow in your way of love and unity.

Monday, April 11, 2016


10I appeal to you, brothers and sisters,a in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought. 11My brothers and sisters, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. 12What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephasb ”; still another, “I follow Christ.”
13Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Paul? (1 Corinthians 1)

Thoughts:  Christ is not divided, and his body should not be divided either.  For basically a thousand years the orthodox church got this.  Today we divide at the drop of a hat.  I heard of a church in Tennessee who divided because one person pealed a potato from back to front and the other said it should be from front to back.  Soon people were choosing sides, and the church divided.  People divide because they believe they have the right belief while others are unorthodox.  Some are progressive and others are conservative- some would rather divide the church than have their idealistic view held down. Some divide over the music.  Others divide over whether they like the pastor or not.  Most use the Bible as justification to divide, and often say that for the peace of the church they must divide.Today there are 33,000 denominations worldwide.  But the Bible gives little if any justification to divide.  Jesus said "the world will know you are my disciples if you show love for one another.. make them one as we are one" (John 13:13; 17:21).   Here Paul criticizes the Corinthian church for its party spirit.  They are rebelling against Christ by choosing sides in their pride instead of working together to love one another.  The church has failed today because we have forgotten the real importance of unity over idealism.  

Prayer: Lord, send your Spirit to make us one as you are one.  

Sunday, April 10, 2016

God Calls Us to His Presence

4I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. 5For in him you have been enriched in every way—with all kinds of speech and with all knowledge— 6God thus confirming our testimony about Christ among you. 7Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. 8He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. (1 COR 1:4-9)

Thoughts: The Corinthian church was enriched with a fire from the Holy Spirit and gifts of the Holy Spirit.  Paul was thankful for this grace (charis) that evidenced itself in the gifts (charismati) of the Spirit.  They had so many spiritual gifts.
Paul also had a deep awareness of the Lord's coming.  The Corinthians eagerly awaited this end time revelation (apokalyptein).   Paul believed that God would keep them faithful until Jesus came back.  Today, we miss this sense of urgency of God's presence.  We yawn at the thinking of Jesus coming, and do not take it seriously or as if it could possibly be immanent.  The church today has become secondary because we do not sense or seek the presence of the Lord.  We lose hope and a goal because of this.  As we do not seek the presence of God, we lose the presence of God in the form of the Holy Spirit- and the church becomes dry as toast.  Without the Spirit and seeking of God- we are nothing.
    The other thing implied in this passage is that the church is not our creation.  God calls us (vs. 9) into fellowship with Him.  It is not our church alone.  It is God's church.  We have no right to divide it, or ruin it, or manipulate it, or use it, lest we offend the One who is married to the Church God.  God who calls us- calls us to be thankful, united, and to seek His presence.  

Prayer: Lord, your presence I seek.  May I never outlive my love for you.