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Posts tagged ‘First Epistle to the Corinthians’

Caring for human good…


By Pastor Bobby Schuller

“If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing…And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
-1 Corinthians 13:3,13

Remember these words: Emotions make great slaves but terrible masters. Are the emotions of your life – especially the emotion of love – mastering you? Do they govern your life? Are you a total slave to your emotions? Or, do you transcend your emotions and make decisions that cause your emotions to follow you?

The first step to controlling the emotion of love is to know that love, primarily, is an action. When you put your hand on someone’s shoulder and say, “Can I pray for you?” Or, when you say to someone, “Hey, can I give you a glass of water or something to eat?” When you help out the poor, when you help those who are struggling, when you see somebody working in the cubicle next to you and you say, “How you doing?” and he says “Fine,'” but you can tell he’s not, and you say, “No, really. How are you?” That’s love. When you live with grace and forgiveness for those you around you, that is love. Men, when you buy flowers for your wives, and women, when you bake cinnamon rolls for your husbands, that’s love.

Love is an action. It’s what you do for people. Love is something you can have for a complete stranger, because love is care for human good. So, if you say to a person, “I love you,” that means you care about their wellbeing even though you don’t even know them.

Prayer: Dear Lord, I relinquish the mastering of my emotions to you. I no longer want to be a slave to them, but to be a servant only of you. Take my feelings of love for others and help me to stabilize those emotions through actions of love. Amen.

Devotion: Have your emotions ever felt out of control? What happened to stabilize them? Did God play a part?

Love in action this year…


By Pastor Bobby Schuller

“If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing…And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
-1 Corinthians 13:2,13

It’s love that’s going to carry us through 2014. And, it’s love in action that will help bring others closer to God during this new year.

Paul is the apostle of love. As he shared the message of the love that we ought to have for one another, he emphasized that it is paramount, the most important thing, the thing that transcends every moral code, higher than any claim that anyone makes. Nothing that the different denominations, groups, and religious sects claim matters if they don’t have love. Without love, nothing matters.

One of the most insightful things that Paul shares with us about love is that love is not an emotion. Love is an action. Love is what you do. People may say, “Oh, I get this feeling of love in my heart and I nurture it. Then, if it blossoms enough, I will love someone in action.” However, that’s not the way at all.

I remember talking with a woman who was a volunteer for New Hope, our 24-hour phone and online counseling ministry. She said, “You know, one of the hardest things about working for New Hope is, as I end the call, when I have to say, ‘God loves you and so do I.’ I don’t really know this person, so how can I say ‘and so do I’? Right? I don’t know the person from Adam.”

What she expressed is what many of us think about love, that love is an emotion that you feel for someone after you get to know him or her. If you get to know a person who’s charming enough, perhaps good looking enough, or funny enough, then you will love them. That is, until the moment they are no longer charming, funny, or attractive to you in some manner. Therefore, that love then becomes only a reaction to a person’s performance.

That’s not what love is. Love is an action.

Prayer: Dear Lord, help me to express love to others as you express love to me – with no expectations and no conditions. Let my love toward others be an act of worship toward you. Amen.

Devotion: How would you describe the differences between emotional love and love in action?

Aaron Crumbey: Stop Doing God’s Job.


Youth ministry

Are you allowing God to do His job or are you trying to do it?

I don’t know about you, but when I think about ministry in the New Year, I think about setting goals. I want ministry moving forward and so I think about what that looks like.

I think about the problem areas of ministry and how I can make it better in the New Year. I think about the students who struggled last year in their faith and the ones who decided this God thing wasn’t for them. I think about what programs or resources we need to add to help these students.

And if I’m not careful, I can easily become the downfall of my efforts in the New Year. An important passage of scripture we must remember in ministry is 1 Corinthians 3:6-7:

“I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow. It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow.”

If we are not careful in our thinking, we can quickly become the solution. Our programs and resources no longer point to salvation, but becomes salvation for people. And we have to remember that God uses what we do for His glory not our own. So that is why we must not get to caught up in what we can provide over who we are pointing students to.

  • Stop Doing God’s Job. I would keep 1 Corinthians 3:6-7 visible so you can stop trying to do work that’s way above your pay grade. Trying to do God’s job in the lives of students will discourage you quicker than anything else. If their life change depends on you, it will be short lived. Stay in your lane. So no matter what 2013 looked like for your ministry, the only question that is relevant is did you point students to Christ? I totally understand the fact that we have to do our do diligence and checklist of how we can do things better, save money and stuff like that, but at the end of the day if you can honestly say that your ministry pointed students to Christ you’ve done your part. We must remember that we are not responsible for life change, that’s God’s job and it’s more important then what we do.
  • Think Preparation. Our job is to be prepared for the life change God brings. I had to change my thinking on how I was going to get students to retain their faith, think different, evangelize, grow in their faith, love God, love others or grow a heart for serving. I’ve changed my thinking to how can we be prepared so when God does something in their heart towards these things we are ready to help them with what God has awakened in their spirits to do. Example: If a student hears a message on serving and God does something in their hearts to serve I want to be ready to help them carry it out. Example: Maybe a student hears a message on growing in their faith, well I need to think how can I help them grow whether it’s with a program or resource. This is how we should think and this is our job. We are not responsible for stirring/changing/increasing/convicting the hearts of students. We plant, help, encourage, act. God’s job is much more important. If we are honest, sometimes we can really feel like since what we are doing is for God it is just as important. And we may not say that with our words but we definitely say it with our actions. Here is one question to ask yourself to figure out if this is true for you or not. How much time to do you give to prayer for the ministry vs. meetings for and about the ministry? If God’s job is more important, then He needs to be highly communicated with because His involvement is crucial and more important then anything we do at any given time.
  • Beware Of Discouragement. I can tell you that it’s not easy because you can become discouraged when a student doesn’t get it, and falls prey to a scheme or trick of the enemy, and not follow what you’re teaching or trying to show them. I have to be reminded myself that it’s not my efforts but it’s the God I serve that changes lives in His timing and in the way He sees fit.
  • Be Encouraged. The God of the universe is on our side and is close to us. Be encouraged that you get to point students to a God that never fails, never sleeps and will never forsake them. Be encouraged that He allows you to be apart of the life changing process, but most importantly be encouraged because you can rely on Him even with the part He’s entrusted to you.

I pray it encourages you to think differently in 2014. What would you add to the list in light of 1 Corinthians 3:6-7?

Written by Aaron Crumbey

Aaron Crumbey oversees pastoral care for the high school ministry at Saddleback Church. He cares deeply about sharing Christ with students and seeing them reach their full potential in Christ. He’s married with three children, loves family time, sports, movies and all things musical among some other things. He also runs http://www.yoacblog.com.

For the original article, visit morethandodgeball.com.

Loving one another…


By Pastor Bobby Schuller

“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal…And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
-1 Corinthians 13:1,13

Paul wrote one of the greatest texts in western literature, 1 Corinthians 13, about what it means to love one another. Written for all, it was first read by the Christians in Corinth, a fabulously wealthy city where anybody – former slaves or freeborn persons, people who had nothing – could go there, start businesses as merchants, and become extremely wealthy. It was a place of commerce, business, and trade. Corinth was the place that you could go to and make all your dreams come true. Because of that, Corinth was quite a competitive place – in business, sports, etc.

Paul saw that this competitive spirit was working its way into the church of Corinth when he spots two types of people:

1. The super apostle. These were people who said, “Don’t listen to Paul. Listen to me. I am so spiritual that I can do miracles, speak in unknown tongues, and do other amazing things. Don’t listen to those silly guys from Jerusalem. I am much more spiritual than they are.”

2. The legalist. These were people who said, “If you want to be a Christian, you have to follow the rules about the clothes you wear, the food you eat, and guys, you have to get circumcised. If you really want to live in the kingdom of God, you have to follow these rigid rules.”

First Corinthians 13 is primarily written to those types of people. Paul says it’s not about being super spiritual and it’s not about soul-killing legalism and religiosity. It’s simply about loving one another. That is the call to moral good.

Prayer: Dear Lord, help me to discover and overcome any legalistic or super religious ways, especially those that get in the way of showing your grace through love to others. Amen.

Devotion: Are you a super apostle? A legalist? Now that you’ve read the descriptions of both, how will you revise your behavior so you can be more loving towards others?

Faith, Hope and Love: Three Gifts That Keep Giving.


girl looking in a big wrapped present
Sometimes the gifts that continue to impact another person’s life don’t come in a box. (© Sonifo iStockPhoto.com)

“Let’s wrap up boxes and books and put them under the tree,” my mom said one night. I was six-years-old and didn’t think anything was odd about wrapping up books and empty boxes. I was excited about the idea of spending time with mom who was busy working from early in the morning as a farm laborer. Most of the time she was asleep when I got home from school.

My little brother and sister were excited about the brightly wrapped presents with shiny bows under the sparkling tinsel tree. I realized that the reason we wrapped those gifts is because she had no money to buy presents. I kept that secret until mom told us we would open our gifts after we came back from grandma and grandpa’s house.

Thinking back on that Christmas, she was trying to feed three kids on a farm laborer’s wage. I remember we had to stand in line with food stamps to buy groceries, which was really embarrassing. We had no presents that year from mom but in later years I gained three gifts that have proven priceless over and over again.

“Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13

The gift of faith. My grandpa picked us up that day. On the way to his house, a police car pulled up behind him with flashing lights. He didn’t understand why he was getting pulled over since he always drove under the speed limit. The policeman asked him how many children were in the car. He went back to his car and returned with an arm full of presents.

We weren’t Christians but I believed that my mom had faith that something good was going to happen that day despite the despair of trying to feed her children on farm laborer’s wages and the shame of receiving welfare checks and food stamps. My mom became a Christian many years later but she always had this incredible optimism and faith in her.

The unexpected presents from an unexpected source are like the gifts that God brings everyday. We take these gifts for granted — the gift of a relationship, the gift of a job in a bad economy or the gift of a child’s love. “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.” Hebrews 11:1 We can carry God’s faith into our holiday gatherings.

My mom taught me to live by faith and that lesson brought me unexpected scholarships that I didn’t apply for to get into college.

The gift of hope. Fast forward many years and I’m college student paying my own way in Hawaii. I have no money to buy presents and my family lives in California. I pray and ask God for creative ideas for presents for my friends and family. I pray for each person that I want to give a gift to and suddenly I get an idea for writing a story about how that person reminds me of a character in the Bible.

Each person receives a story with pictures in a little booklet. Every person I gave that booklet to say that was the best gift they had ever received. Through those stories, I gave them the gift of hope. I gave the gift that they are becoming someone who Jesus intended to them to be. I stirred up the flame of destiny in them through the words on that page. The cost for that present was my time seeking the Lord on their behalf. We can give the gift of hope in this holiday season by being a vessel for Him to speak His words of life and hope to others.

The gift of love. My friend Faith calls me right before Christmas in 1998. I’m fighting depression after my mom died. I’m hopeless and this dark cloud sits over me. I have a wonderful Christian husband, two beautiful little boys, a gorgeous home, and great job but can’t enjoy any of it because of the depression. Faith says she wants to fly me from Columbia, MO. to West Palm Beach to go with her to some revival services.

Right after New Year‘s, I fly to West Palm Beach. Faith takes me to revival services at her church and I receive an incredible touch from God. That time prepares me for my visit to the Smithton Outpouring in February where I’m set free from depression. Hope and faith come back with the love of my friend. Faith gave me the gift of love that set me in the right direction at that time.

Demonstrate God’s love during this holiday season. Love is the engine of faith and hope in action carrying His presence into the room. Call that person who needs His love. Or take them to lunch or dinner. Above all, take action. Don’t let another Christmas pass by without reaching out to that person who has been on your heart.

“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Give the gifts that keep giving after Christmas – the gift of faith, hope and love.

Source: CHARISMA MAGAZINE/ SPIRITLED WOMAN.

LEILANI HAYWOOD

Leilani Haywood is the editor of SpiritLed Woman and a frequent contributor to Charisma. She is an award-winning writer who has been published in The Kansas City Star, Focus on the Family, Metrovoice Newspaper and many other publications.

{ Day 338 }.


He who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men. 1 Corinthians 14:3, NKJV

Practically everyone who is filled with God‘s Spirit is able to prophesy on an inspirational level (what I have referred to as Level 1 prophecy), especially in a worship service where the Holy Spirit‘s presence is more easily recognized. The result of what we call inspirational prophecy was described by Paul in our verse for today. The purpose of this type of prophecy is to inspire and refresh our hearts without giving any correction or new direction. This kind of prophecy is usually a reminder from the heart of God about His care and purposes for us, and it often emphasizes some truth we already know from the Bible. Inspirational prophecy can be a very profound revelation, or it can be (as it usually is) something very simple, such as, “I feel the Lord is saying that He really loves us.” That message, if it is given at a divinely prescribed time, can be powerful and effective.

{ PRAYER STARTER }

Holy Spirit, fill my spirit with the inspiration of Your marvelous love and care for Your children. Help me to be willing to inspire others with the overflow of revelation that You give to me.

If inspirational prophecy occurs too frequently,
it will become too common, and people will no
longer pay attention to what is being said.

By MIKE BICKLE.

Christians, Alcohol, and the Bible.


Christians, Alcohol, and the Bible

“Don’t drink, don’t chew, don’t go with girls that do.” It may be bad poetry, but at least it has the virtue of being clear. And fifty years ago, many American Evangelicals would have agreed that alcohol consumption was a sure sign of worldliness, if not a lack of genuine faith altogether.

But times have changed, as a recent CT article shows, citing Moody Bible Institute lifting its ban on alcohol and tobacco use for full time employees. This change is part of a larger shift in how Evangelicals think about cultural activities once deemed questionable. Consider, for example Brett McCracken’s recent book Gray Matters: Navigating the Space between Legalism and Liberty, which discusses Christian consumption of food, music, movies, and alcohol.[1]

Emotions run high on this issue. This is understandable considering the destruction and heartbreak many have experienced because of alcohol addiction and abuse. No thoughtful person would advocate that all Christians should drink, but some believe total abstention is the only reasonable Christian position.

As with all matters of Christian living, the foremost question is, “What does the Bible teach?”

Curse or Blessing?

Is alcohol a curse or a blessing? Scripture certainly speaks negatively about alcohol.

·         Drunkenness is condemned in multiple passages, such as Ephesians 5:18: “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit.”

·         The language of 1 Corinthians 6:10 is even stronger, warning that drunkards “will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

·         Jesus warned against drunkenness in Luke 21:34.

·         And the book of Proverbs, full of warnings against drunkenness, especially warns against the disorienting, addictive, and destructive consequences for those who “tarry long over wine”:

Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has strife? Who has complaining? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? Those who tarry long over wine; those who go to try mixed wine. Do not look at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup and goes down smoothly. In the end it bites like a serpent and stings like an adder. Your eyes will see strange things, and your heart utter perverse things. You will be like one who lies down in the midst of the sea, like one who lies on the top of a mast. “They struck me,” you will say, “but I was not hurt; they beat me, but I did not feel it. When shall I awake? I must have another drink.” (Proverbs 23:29-35)

To top it off, the Old Testament prophets frequently use drunkenness as a metaphor for God’s judgment and curse on sinful human societies. (See Jeremiah 13:13-14 and Ezekiel 23:38-33.)

But alongside these negative passages, Scripture also says that wine is a gift from God. For example, the Psalmist praised God for the gifts of wine, oil, and bread in Psalm 104:14-15:

You cause the grass to grow for the livestock and plants for man to cultivate, that he may bring forth food from the earth and wine to gladden the heart of man, oil to make his face shine and bread to strengthen man’s heart.

And this is not the only positive reference to alcohol — there are many others. In fact, the number of positive references to wine in Scripture is almost surprising.

·         Wine is viewed as the blessing of God (Genesis 27:28Deuteronomy 7:13).

·         The benefits or promises of wisdom are favorably compared to wine (Proverbs 9:2-5).

·         The blessings of romantic love in marriage are compared with wine (Song of Solomon 5:1).

·         The gracious promises of the gospel are compared to wine (Isaiah 55:1-2).

·         Many passages anticipate a great eschatological feast at the end of time when the nations will gather to enjoy “a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine” prepared for God’s people by the Lord himself (Isaiah 25:6-9Amos 9:13-15).

·         And then there is the practice of Jesus, who not only began his ministry by miraculously transforming water into wine (John 2:1-11), but also drank it himself (Luke 7:33-35).[2]

Use or Abuse?

A close look at the relevant passages show that Scripture condemns not the use but the abuse of alcohol.

This is the same perspective we’re given regarding food and sex. Eating food is not a sin, but its abuse through gluttony is. Sex is a good gift from the Lord when enjoyed in the context of the loving covenant relationship of marriage. But Scripture condemns the misuse of sex in extramarital relationships.

The same can be said of alcohol: alcohol itself is not a sinful substance, but the abuse or misuse of alcohol is both sinful and destructive.

Liberty or Love?

It seems clear that the moderate consumption of alcohol is a matter of Christian liberty. So, should a Christian be willing to forego the exercise of this freedom for the sake of others? Absolutely. Paul makes this clear in Romans 14.

Paul doesn’t say a believer can enjoy liberty only if everyone else agrees with him. Nor does he advocate laying down all liberties on all occasions. But when a believer with a “strong” conscience is in the presence of a believer with a “weak” conscience, he or she should not participate in anything that tempts the weaker believer to sin. There must be love for and sensitivity to others in this issue.

Love always trumps liberty.[3]
Brian G. Hedges is the lead pastor for Fulkerson Park Baptist Church and the author of Christ Formed in You: The Power of the Gospel for Personal Change and Licensed to Kill: A Field Manual for Mortifying Sin. Brian and his wife Holly have four children and live in South Bend, Indiana. Brian also blogs at www.brianghedges.comand you can follow him on Twitter @brianghedges.

Notes


[1]This book is helpful in many ways, not least of which is his survey of the history on each of these issues. See, for example, Christians and Alcohol: A Timeline, excerpted from his book.

[2]Some would argue that the different words for wine in the original languages prove that the positive references are to new, unfermented wine, with the negative passages targeting all intoxicating beverages.

With the Old Testament, contrasts are made between the Hebrew words tirosh (often translated “new wine”), yayin (“wine”), and shekar (“strong drink”), while a similar contrast is made between the words oinos (“wine”) and gluekos (“new wine”) in the New Testament.

But these distinctions don’t hold up under attentive exegesis. Gluekos only appears once in the New Testament (Acts 2:13) and even then the context shows that it could intoxicate. Tirosh (“new wine”)clearly has intoxicating effects in Hosea 4:11, though considered a blessing from God inDeuteronomy 7:13and many other passages.

Even shekar (“strong drink,” translated “beer” in the HCSB) is allowed in Deuteronomy 14:24-26: “And if the way is too long for you, so that you are not able to carry the tithe, when the LORD your God blesses you, because the place is too far from you, which the LORD your God chooses, to set his name there, then you shall turn it into money . . . and spend the money for whatever you desire–oxen or sheep or wine or strong drink, whatever your appetite craves. And you shall eat there before the LORD your God and rejoice, you and your household.”

[3]For more on the issues of both alcohol and Christian liberty, see Kenneth Gentry’s helpful bookGod Gave Wine: What the Bible Says about Alcohol.

Brian Hedges

 

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