Wednesday, June 30, 2010

For Whose Sake?

This morning I was in 1 Cor 8 in my Sunday school preparation for this week.  As I was studying through and reviewing the whole chapter – but especially 1 Cor 8:9-13 – I began to wonder about my own attitude toward things that I think of as forbidden or taboo.  Things that I view as the idols of this world.  What is my motivation behind avoiding those things?

Examining my heart, I realized that my motivation is similar to Peter’s in Acts 10:14.  I avoid things to keep myself pure.  I truly long to grow in Christ, and I don’t want to do anything to stunt that growth. 

But that should not be my sole motivation.  Yes, I long to grow, and yes I must have becoming like Christ as my life goal.  But, when it comes to whether or not I participate in certain activities, how frequently is my concern for the growth of others?  More often than not, my concern is selfish.  That ought not be!

I am challenged to be more outwardly focused.  I am challenged to think not only of my own growth, but of that of those around me as well.  My every action should be to glorify God through, and a great deal of that is bound up in the furthering of His kingdom.  Oh, my I not be so concerned about myself that I miss the ways I can be concerned for others!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Eternally Minded

Why are we also in danger every day? I affirm, brethren, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.  1 Cor 15:30-31

In this entire chapter, Paul is combating teachings that introduce a denial of the resurrection.  He is reminding the Corinthians that if there is no resurrection, there is no reason to be followers of Christ. 

I wholeheartedly believe in the resurrection.  I agree that my faith is worthless if Christ is not raised, alive and sitting at the right hand of the Father to this very day.  But, as I read these two verses this morning, I had to ask myself:

Do I really live daily like I believe in the resurrection?

The resurrection is not only about Christ being raised from the dead in a triumphant conquering of sin and death.  It’s also about the reality and the promise that I, too, will be raised.  How much of my daily life reflects that? 

If I truly believe in the resurrection of all believers, then will I not live as Paul did – dying daily?  Do my daily activities reflect an eternal mindset or a temporal one?  Actions that promote the eternal kingdom of God or that simply sustain daily life here on earth? 

I am challenged to grow in an eternal mindset.  And, although I must care for the day to day earthly needs of myself and my family, I am challenged to make daily earthly sustenance secondary to that eternal mindset. 

Monday, June 28, 2010

Coming Back...

For some reason, posting on this blog has just fallen by the wayside.  I miss it.  It seems that I haven't been able to compose thoughts well enough to share them.  Even when I do, I just don't get around to getting them typed up.  But, I want to try to change that, starting this week...tomorrow, to be specific.  I don't feel that it's something I have to do, but I think I process better when I take the time to share at least one thing every day from my daily devotional time.  So, that's my challenge - to get back to intentionally seeking a challenge! 

Until tomorrow...

Thursday, June 24, 2010


So also you, since you are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek to abound for the edification of the church. 1 Cor 14:12 (NASB)

The context of this verse is a discussion on spiritual gifts, especially prophecy and tongues.  But, the thought that stood out to me was instead more focused on the idea of being zealous of something.  For all their faults, the Corinthians were at least zealous of spiritual gifts.  Maybe they just wanted the excitement, but sometimes even a zeal that has faulty initial motives can lead to growth in truth.  

I had to stop this morning and ask myself - am I zealous in any way?  Over the past few years I have read so many biographies of zealous believers, especially from the past two centuries.  Beyond that, the Bible is full of people zealous after God.  And where there is rightly placed zeal, awesome things happen.

Some of those awesome things are quite painful.  The story of Joseph in the Bible is not unique.  When people follow God, some rough things happen.  But, in each of those rough things, God brings about something beautiful and brings great glory to Himself.

At best any zeal I have is rather mellow.  I am zealous as long as it doesn't interfere in the life I think I want.  So, maybe I am zealous for my desires.  Whatever the case may be, Paul informed the Corinthians that their zeal needed to be for things that edified the body and brought glory to God.  Herein lies my challenge - to be zealous for the things that glorify God and edify the body.  May I grow immensely in such zeal!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Suffering & Rejoicing

…so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.  And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.  1 Cor 12:25-26

What is my concern for the other members of my local body of believers?  Do I have this level of care for each and every member?  To be honest, the answer would have to be no.  It isn’t that I look at certain people and just say, “I don’t care about you.”  It’s more that I don’t make it a point to truly know what they’re dealing with. 

As I pray through our church members every morning, there are certain names that really stand out to me.  I know their needs.  I know their struggles.  I empathize with them, and pray whole-heartedly for specific needs.  There are others, however, who I lift up by name but often have no idea how to lift them up specifically.  I life up their names and ask the Lord to draw them closer to Him, but I am, in truth, neither suffering nor rejoicing alongside them. 

The members of my church may or may not be open and forthcoming about either their sufferings or their rejoicings.  But, if my heart is focused and dedicated in prayer for these fellow believers, the Lord will guide my heart as I pray for them – and in turn possibly begin opening the relational doors with them as well.  My challenge is to be intentionally sensitive to the leadership of the Holy Spirit in prayer for my fellow church members that I may truly learn to care for each one. 

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Body

The passage today is long, so I won’t quote it all here.  But you can place your pointer over the reference to read it. 

1 Cor 12:14-26 is a very familiar passage.  It is often preached and taught to try to stir people to action.  Pew warming isn’t Biblical!  Be an active part of the body!  The minority of church members do the majority of the work!  Let’s change that!  Let’s share the load equally!  Let’s be a unified body!

I can rattle off all of the things (besides being the pastor’s wife) that I do as part of the body.  I’m not a pew-warmer.  I am an active participant.  Those were the thoughts running through my mind before I even began to read this morning.  I knew the passage.  I knew what it said.  And, to be honest, I didn’t want to read that rut into it again.  So I prayed for an open heart, eyes, and ears. 

In all honesty, it opened more questions for me than answers.  But, one thing I did feel convicted of was this: my attitude.   As I read this familiar passage again this morning, I realized that how we view one another in the body is more “the point” than how active or inactive we are as individuals.  What is my attitude toward other members of the body?  Am I a member who encourages and motivates each member to have the courage to fulfill their role  or do I doubt their capabilities?   Do I draw out the gifts of others or does my presence and attitude lead them to believe they will never measure up to some unseen standard?  Do I really even see capabilities in others or do I just see where they are now and decide in my mind that that’s where they’ll stay? 

Being a part of the body of Christ, local or universal, is not about working the hardest.  It’s about working in unity.  And that just might take a bit of an attitude adjustment on my part.  My prayer is to receive and follow the Lord’s leadership regarding the adjustments I need to make, and my challenge is to take action to make those adjustments. 

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Look at Me?

Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.  1 Cor 11:1 (NASB)

As I read this, I don’t see a cocky statement of perfection.  I see a passion.  I see a man whose heart is fixed on his desire to imitate Christ.  Paul admits in other places that he is not perfect.  He admits his own struggles – the war that rages within him.  But his heart desires a steadfast relationship with Christ, and his goal is full imitation of the One who saved him. 

Where is my heart?  Could I ever say, “Imitate me, just like I imitate Jesus Christ”?  Would I ever dare?

To be honest, I don’t want people to imitate me.  That is just too frightening a responsibility.  But, whether I desire it or not, it happens.  If with no one else, there are three little ones living with me who will imitate me without even consciously making such a decision. 

So, the challenge comes down to this – who do I imitate?  Do I imitate my culture and the world in which I live, or do I imitate Christ?   Oh, how it must be Christ, for otherwise I can never bear the weight of the responsibility of motherhood. 

Friday, June 11, 2010


All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable.  All things are lawful, but not all things edify.  Let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbor.

Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.   1 Cor 10:23-24, 31

I have long clung to verse 31 as a reminder in my daily life to focus on God’s glory in all of my actions.  I have so far yet to grow in that area, but it truly is my heart’s desire.

But today it went a little further.  I have long realized that there are certain things that I don’t feel are a problem for me, but I abstain from them so as to not offend.  Yet, what is my foundational motive for such abstinence?  When I was confronted with that question, I realized it was not the motivation that is outlined in this passage.

My motive has long been people-pleasing for personal profit.  I want to be well thought of.  I want to be respected.  I want my life to be a positive example of others.   According to these verses, however, the profit is not my own! 

Ultimately the profit from my choices comes down to verse 31 and the glory of God.  But, the process of that is actually the profit of others – of my neighbor.  My neighbor’s salvation glorifies God in the furtherance of His kingdom, therefore my actions should be useful to God in drawing my neighbor to Himself.  My neighbor’s spiritual growth glorifies God in the furtherance of His kingdom, therefore my actions should be useful to God in encouraging the growth of my neighbor.  It isn’t just about my profit in the relationship between myself and my God.  It’s about the profit of my neighbor. 

My challenge is to broaden my understanding of glorifying God to include how best to profit my neighbor – and consequently be even more effective in glorifying my Savior!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Trying the Lord

Nor let us try the Lord, as some of them did , and were destroyed by the serpents.  1 Cor 10:9 (NASB)
I missed finishing my "series" over the weekend, but as I am still working my way through it all, I'll go back and catch up.

When I think of "trying" the Lord, I think of my own children and how they try me sometimes.  In those moments, nothing is good enough for them.  I do for them, and they complain.  I give to them and they want more.  I place beauty before them and it might as well be the ugliest thing on earth. 

I would love to say I never try the Lord, but I can sit here right now and think of ways I try Him regularly.  I fuss because He doesn't provide the way I wanted Him to.  He blesses me abundantly in so many ways, and I argue that His blessing is not what I sought.  He places beauty before me and I long for beauty of a different kind.

My challenge, naturally, is to identify specific ways in my day to day behavior that try the Lord.  Oh, may I accept wholeheartedly what He places before me!  What He provides is always best - may I never seek anything else!

Thursday, June 3, 2010


Nor let us act immorally, as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in one day;  1 Cor 10:8 (NASB)

In continuation of yesterday's challenge, today I am pondering verse eight.  These days it seems we automatically connect immorality to sexual impropriety of some sort.  And, that is an accurate connection.  One of the definitions of immoral is licentious or lascivious.  Both of those terms do tend to focus on sexual immorality.  And, naturally I'm not sexually immoral, am I?  Maybe not, but in a culture so heavily bombarded with sexuality, I do need to remember to compare my perspective to God's Word rather than to an American standard of morality.

But, as I thought more about what it means to avoid immoral behavior, I was reminded that there is much more to morality than sexual purity. (yes, I'm lazy - I went online instead of pulling out the hardback dictionary in the school room) gives this as the first definition of immoral:
  • violating moral principles; not conforming to the patterns of conduct usually accepted or established as consistent with principles of personal and social ethics
It's very easy to consider myself a moral person relative to the standards of culture and society in which I live.  God's concept of immorality, however, is anything that does not conform to the ethics established not in our culture or society but in His Word.  Therefore, my challenge for today is to re-evaluate my standard of morality.  Is it in line with God's Word or simply with the standards of American society? 

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written, "THE PEOPLE SAT DOWN TO EAT AND DRINK, AND STOOD UP TO PLAY." 1 Cor 10:7 (NASB)

I'm not sure I'm very thrilled about the challenge laid before me not only for today but for the rest of the week.  I honestly thought I was done with 1 Cor 10:1-11, but yesterday the Lord slowed me back down.  There was a very strong impression that there was more to these verses than I had processed through, and I needed to stay with them for a while.  So, yesterday I read them again.  Then today.  And today I very distinctly felt the challenge to carefully consider 1 Cor 10:7-10 and evaluate it in comparison to my life.

Today the focus is on verse 7 and on idolatry.  This is a subject I would love to gloss over with the gleeful naivety of one who can limit idolatry to the Biblical picture of bowing down to images made of gold, silver, stone, or wood.  But, truthfully I have many idols.  If God called me to pick up and move to the ends of the earth to fulfill my one goal of glorifying Him, what things would tie me down?  Even beyond the physical possessions, what emotional ties would bring me anxiety in such a situation?  Those things - physical, emotional, and otherwise - are my idols. 

The beauty is that God does not want to strip me of all that is pleasurable.  On the contrary, He desires my full and complete freedom to enjoy the pleasures He has given me.  And He knows full well that my freedom will not come until my life is stripped of idols.  Will I surrender them freely or have them taken from me?  Will I utilize the tools of this world without being tied to them?  Will I love freely and passionately without being hindered from service by that love? 

In light of these questions, I embark on the challenge that will begin today and end when I meet my Creator face to face: to identify and put aside the idols that are hindering my full and complete allegiance to Christ and then live in freedom from those idols.