August 25, 2018
THE GRACE OF GIVING
Ironically, the church in Corinth, one of the most wealthy among the 1st Century churches, was the one that Paul had to do the most teaching on generosity. In the poorer churches, like the churches in Macedonia, it seemed giving came easily. They gave with such generosity that Paul was astounded, because they gave “beyond their ability” (2 Cor. 8:3) and this, with great joy and willingness. Yet, even in Paul’s second letter to the well-to-do believers in Corinth, it is obvious that they still weren’t living with generosity.
Notice Paul’s helpful instruction, he taught them…
1) When to give: every Sunday “first day”
2) Who should give: every member “you should each”
3) How much to give: a portion based on your earnings
Corinth was wealthy in every way except in generosity. They abounded in “everything–– in faith, in speech, in knowledge” (2 Cor. 8:7), yet Paul would have them abound in the grace of giving.
August 24, 2018
WHAT WILL OUR FUTURE BODY BE LIKE?
People today spend a great deal of money and effort on extending the youthful appearance of their bodies. Yet inevitably, our earthly bodies will age and die. This is the inheritance that we received from our father, Adam, the “earthly man.” However, those who have been born again in Christ have received a new inheritance. They have been given the Holy Spirit as a “guarantee” (Eph. 1:14) that they will also receive a new body when the dead in Christ rise at His return. This new body will be like the one that belongs to the “heavenly man,” who is Christ Jesus. He is the “firstborn from among the dead” (Col. 1:18), the prototype of our future resurrection body.
What will our future body be like? It will be like the resurrection body of Jesus. As the apostle John wrote, “Dear friends, we are already God’s children, but he has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like him, for we will see him as he really is” (1 John 3:2).
August 20, 2018
LOVE NEVER GIVES UP
Paul’s love chapter (1 Cor. 13) is one of the most wonderful descriptions of “agape” love found in any literature in human history. Yet, its lofty attributes are beyond mortal humanity absent the Spirit which inspired Paul’s writing. For “agape” love is God’s kind of love. It is unconditional, enduring and sacrificial. It is most fully demonstrated in that “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8).
God has not given up on us because agape love never gives up. “For God is love” (1 John 4:8).
Who do you know that needs God’s kind of love, the kind of love that never gives up?
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.