August 19, 2018
EVERY SPIRITUAL GIFT NEEDED IS PRESENT IN THE LOCAL CHURCH
It is the Lord that gives out spiritual gifts to those who have believed and received Jesus. He gives them to each according to His will, so that the local church has every spiritual gift it needs to function and fulfill His commission. Yet, many churches seem to limp along as if missing some key part. As a result, little harmony is seen, disunity prevails, and members fail to care for one another.
Has the Lord, who has “put the body together,” failed to give the church a necessary gift? Certainly not. The problem is that many members of the body are not putting their spiritual gifting to use in the church. Some because of ignorance or immaturity. Others because of a lack of spiritual zeal or some distracting or disabling sin area.
Church members often come to the pastor suggesting the church needs this missing ministry or that unmet service. Could it be that the person who saw the need is the one that the Lord has gifted and called to fulfill it? After all, the church is us! It’s the people, not the steeple! If the church is missing something, isn’t it because someone in the church isn’t being the member of the body that God called them to be?
Do you know why the Lord has put you in the local body of Christ? Are you fulfilling His purpose for your life in a way that makes for harmony in the church and cares for others? If the church is missing some ministry, perhaps it’s because you are not answering His call.
August 18, 2018
OUR UNITY IN CHRIST AND THE BREAKING OF BREAD
The divisions within the Corinthian church were especially on display during the Lord’s Supper. This is ironic and particularly troubling because the breaking of bread was to be both a reminder of their oneness in Christ and with one another as His body. The Corinthians were apparently having an Agape (“Love”) Feast, which would have been a full meal, that concluded with a remembrance of the Lord’s Supper. This is a beautiful practice and mirrors somewhat the Passover feast. However, the wealthy and well-to-do members of the church were apparently not waiting on its poorer members to arrive before beginning the meal. Some were overeating and even getting drunk on the wine, so that most of the food and drink was gone before the poor arrived. Paul was infuriated at news of their behavior and rebuked them to remember that they were all the family of God because of Christ’s sacrifice.
Those who remember Christ in the breaking of bread together are reminded of His sacrifice for them, but they are also reminded of their relationship to one another as brothers and sisters in God’s family. The practice of breaking bread together is a crucial devotion for those that would experience the fellowship of the Spirit of Christ.
August 16, 2018
ONE LOAF, ONE BODY, ONE FAMILY
The apostle Paul instructed the Corinthians concerning the significance of sharing the Lord’s Supper together. Those who remember the sacrifice of Christ’s body and blood in the Lord’s Supper are also giving recognition to their oneness in Christ’s family. Just as we eat from one loaf and drink from one cup, so we are one body, which is the body of Christ and He is the Head. The devotion of the early church to “the breaking of bread” (Acts 2:42) is just as spiritually significant as the other three devotions. For in eating the Lord’s Supper together we not only remember and proclaim Christ’s sacrifice, we also deepen our awareness of our unity in Christ’s body and our membership in God’s family.
August 15, 2018
CHRIST, OUR ALL IN ALL
Paul reminded the Corinthian believers of the Exodus story. He recalled how all the Israelites ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual water, which in both cases, were typical of Christ. For as the manna was daily bread from heaven, so Christ is the “Bread of Life” (John 6:35). And as the water from the rock gushed forth, so Christ is the Rock and the Spirit, the “living water” (John 7:38-39), which fills those who receive Christ. Paul said that this spiritual rock “traveled with them,” yet not the rock itself, but it was the spiritual water from the rock that traveled with them. In the same way, it is the Spirit of Christ that travels with believers today.
Paul recounted the Exodus story to remind the Corinthians that although all the Israelites had received every spiritual benefit, God was “not pleased with most of them” (1 Cor. 10:5). Therefore, let us look unto Christ for our salvation. And when we read the Scriptures, whether old or new, let us always look for Christ. For Christ is the Living Word of God.
August 14, 2018
THE CALL TO PREACH THE GOOD NEWS
When I was eight years old, my grandmother told me that she thought I was going to be a preacher when I grew up. I disagreed and insisted I was going to raise chickens with Papaw. Turns out, she was right. God called me to preach. But I do still love chicken. 🙂
The first time I felt the call to preach was when I was 19 years old. I was attending a Christian conference for college students and the speaker instructed anyone who felt God calling them to the ministry to stand up. I looked around to see who would stand up, when I suddenly realized that I was standing up! I seriously don’t remember telling my legs to stand. But there I was, standing with tears pouring down my face.
Flash forward 11 years. I was 30 years old, married with three kids, a mortgage and a good corporate job. And I still hadn’t answered the call to preach. I taught Sunday school, I sang in the choir, I served on church committees, I was a deacon… I was trying to serve without selling out completely. Yet, I knew that God wanted my all in all. I was afraid, but like Paul, I felt compelled. My misery grew so great (It’s miserable to run from God’s call. Just ask Jonah.) that I finally surrendered. I quit my job, went to seminary, and planted Wilson Community Church.
Like Paul, I can’t boast about this calling. Like Jonah, I tried my best to run from it. Yet now, thirty years later, I am so thankful. How terrible it would be if I didn’t preach the gospel.
What’s God calling you to do?
August 13, 2018
OUR FREEDOM TO LIVE IS LIMITED BY OUR RESPONSIBILITY TO LOVE
Our freedom in Christ does not relieve us of our responsibility to consider others, especially new believers. In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, he was concerned about those who felt free to eat meat offered to idols without consideration of those who would be tempted to sin by doing the same. The city of Corinth was known for its temple to Apollo. The Apollo Temple was the most prominent building in the city. In addition, overlooking the city was an acropolis upon which stood a temple to Aphrodite. Animal sacrifices were offered at both of these temples. The meat was then sold to local butchers in the Corinthian market place, who sold it to their customers. Even though as Paul pointed out, these gods were not real, those who grew up in Corinth might feel disloyal to Christ by eating the meat offered to Apollo or Aphrodite. For this reason, he said, “If it causes your brother to sin, then don’t eat meat” (1 Cor. 8:13).
Our freedom to live according to our conscience and knowledge is to be limited by our responsibility to love others. How might this principle be applied today?
August 12, 2018
DON’T BE ABSORBED BY TEMPORARY CONDITIONS
Are you weeping over a loss today? Be mindful that the Lord will soon wipe away every tear (Rev. 21:4), turning your mourning into dancing (Psa. 30:11). Are you rejoicing in your blessings today? Wonderful. Yet, let the One who blesses be the focus of your joy, rather than being overly enamored of the blessings themselves. Have you acquired possessions that make life easier and more beautiful? Be careful. For your possessions may seek to possess you instead. Don’t be absorbed by temporary conditions in this world. Instead, let Christ and His eternal kingdom be the focus of your life.
August 8, 2018
THE NEW SPIRITUAL REALITY: WE ARE GOD’S FAMILY!
Paul reminded the Corinthians of their spiritual relationship to him. He had become their spiritual father because he was the one who had first preached the Gospel to them. Yet, they were treating him disgracefully by comparing him to other preachers, such as Apollos, who had come after him. It was not Paul’s injured pride that motivated him to write this corrective letter to the Corinthians. But it was the Spirit who inspired him to show them that it was their fleshly pride that led them to compare and boast based on outward appearance.
There is a new spiritual reality that comes from believing the Gospel. We have become God’s children. We have become members of God’s family. Those who have taught us of Christ, and continue to mentor us, are as our spiritual fathers and mothers. Those who we fellowship with in Christ are as our brothers and sisters. And those who we share the Gospel with are as our spiritual sons and daughters. Remember this when pride tempts you to compare and complain. We are God’s family!
August 7, 2018
CALLED TO MAKE JESUS FAMOUS, NOT OURSELVES
Paul was concerned with the church at Corinth because of reports that there were divisions among them concerning which teacher they followed. Some were claiming to be followers of Paul and others, followers of Apollos. This was heartbreaking news to Paul, for he knew the foundation he had laid when he planted the church in Corinth. And that foundation was Christ Jesus. He had not led them to follow him, but to follow Christ.
Someone has once said that wherever you hear the name of the preacher lifted up more than the name of Christ, one should listen for the sound of the serpent’s hiss in the background. For Satan is pleased when he has tempted man to take the glory belonging to Jesus.
It’s good to honor and to submit to the spiritual leaders that God has given. Yet, the glory belongs to Christ. We are not called to make a man, a doctrine, nor a church famous. We are called to make Christ Jesus famous, and if need be, ourselves a fool.
August 6, 2018
WHY BELIEVERS DON’T NEED TO ASK WWJD
In 1896, Charles Sheldon published a novel called In “His Steps,” in which a fictional town was radically improved when its residents began to ask themselves, “What would Jesus do?” before every action. In the 1990s, someone got the idea of writing this question in the acronym form, “WWJD,” and putting it on everything from bracelets to ball caps. The WWJD logo was soon seen everywhere.
Did asking this question help people live better? Perhaps. Thinking before acting is always a good idea. But there is an error at the heart of this. According to the apostle Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, the “people who aren’t spiritual can’t receive these truths from God’s Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them and they can’t understand it, for only those who are spiritual can understand what the Spirit means” (1 Cor. 2:14). In other words, those without Christ have no idea what Jesus would do, neither do they have the desire nor the willpower to do it.
The truth is, only those who have believed and received Christ Jesus as Lord and Savior can know the “mind of Christ” on things. For only those who have been born again have the Spirit of Christ living within, instructing and empowering them to live for Him. The believer doesn’t need to ask what Jesus would do, for they already possess the “mind of Christ” on things. They only need to obey and rely on His Spirit, for the challenge is not so much in knowing God’s will, but in doing it.
But you don’t have to throw your WWJD bracelet away! Who knows? It might cause someone to ask a question about Jesus that will give you the opportunity to share the gospel. Surely, that’s what Jesus would do. 🙂