Tuesday, June 30: 2Corinthians 8- Excel in giving.

The letters to Corinth are often associated with spiritual gifts, although Paul addresses quite a number of issues. This morning’s reading is all about giving. And verse 7 resonated with my spirit so I lingered on it after completing my reading of the chapter.

But since you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you—see that you also excel in this grace of giving.

In a subtle way Paul plays hardball with the Corinthians. They love spiritual gifts (see 1Cor 12-14) and knowledge so Paul plays to their desires and uses that to drive them to the grace of giving.

Were he writing to me, he might have written, ‘since you excel in everything –in family and parenting, in work and profession –excel also in the grace of giving.’ In effect, Paul says excel in giving as you excel in those things you do best and give your attention to!

Those things I excel in are the things I have worked hard to master. I have studied them, I have worked on them, I have learned them, even ‘mastered’ them and Paul says do the same with giving.

Some people excel in sports, tennis and golf come to mind. Some excel in music, playing, singing, performing and teaching. Where I live, some excel in boating.  They master the way of the sea, in sail or motor boats.  Whatever it is that you excel at, apply the same diligence and effort to your grace of giving.

How do I do this???

Giving takes a change of heart and Romans 12:1-2 tells me this comes by the renewing of my mind. I have to allow God, the Holy Spirit, into this part of my life to break my stinginess and open my heart to the needs of others. Then there is practice, I have to start giving. Like someone learning tennis, I have to practice my swing until it begins to be a natural reaction on the tennis court. Likewise, I have to give generously, whatever that is for me at the moment.  Then as I grow in this area, I will do it with more and more effectiveness and power. And so generosity will well up in me and become much more ‘natural’ or automatic.

Giving and growing in the grace of giving is learned…. And God bids me to learn it so well it would be said of me that I excel in it.

Okay, Lord, let the adventure of exceling in the grace of giving begin… Holy Spirit, lead me. Reduce my selfishness and increase my desire to grace others with all that you have given me. I pray in Jesus’ name and for the sake of living the love He has given to me. Amen


Monday, June 29: 2Corinthians 7- Purify yourselves.

This chapter opens with a direct comment about our calling to purity, holiness and faithfulness. It is here that I spent time refreshing my soul.

Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God (1).

Purify ourselves… myself… from everything that contaminates body and spirit.

God’s Word gives me this charge… purify myself, wash myself, cleanse myself.

When I wash my hands, I actively scrub off the dirt. By analogy, if I am going to purify myself, I must actively scrub off all things that contaminate. I take an active part in this. I must identify contaminants and then find the cleanser to wash them away.

When I work in my woodshop, normal soap won’t do, I need something with a degreaser as well as cleanser. Sexual contaminants takes one kind of cleansing, pride takes another and so on.

All cleansing requires identification of the sin area and then confession. But beyond that, purification of some kinds of contaminants takes a commitment to avoid certain activities or places, others take disciplines of the heart more so than life. God calls us to engage in whatever we find necessary to purify our lives… all of it, body and spirit, mind and heart, all of it.

Lord, I cannot do this without the indwelling work of the Holy Spirit, revealing and convicting me of my sins and sin patterns, and then giving me ‘the where with all’ to attack these areas in the power of the Spirit and replacing them with godly Jesus-honoring behaviors, actions, thoughts and desires. O, Lord, help me, guide me, strengthen me to be Yours, totally and wholly Yours. Through Jesus, I pray. Amen.


Saturday, June 27: 2Corinthians 6- Unequally Yoked.

I was on an extended trip to West Africa when I sat for my devotions after a long day of travel. Reading chapter 6 verses 14-18 struck me.

Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said:

“I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.”


“Come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.”


“I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty” (14-18).

I found myself chewing on these verses, particularly the opening salvo. Paul is quite direct and strong. Don’t be yoked to unbelievers… what do they have in common, what harmony or fellowship do they have with unbelievers, he counsels.

The key is the meaning of yoked… I know from 1Cor 5:9-10 that Paul does not mean that we are never to associate with unbelievers. In that case we would have to leave the world, Paul says in 1Cor5:10. Additionally, I need only recall yesterday’s devotion about being ambassadors for Christ! So he is certainly forbidding some other relationship, one of deep connection.

At this point I was interrupted to eat dinner.

And after dinner I found myself amongst a group of Christians from across Africa. I didn’t know any of their names and, yet, as they sang praises to God and read the Bible together I was instantly connected to them. It hit me, I can never have this kind or depth of connection with an unbeliever. My inner spirit will never resonate with theirs like mine did tonight with these other Christ followers.

As I mentally wandered back to the verses above, it hit me that I must never put myself in a relationship where I will be forced to choose between my relationship with the unbeliever and my God. That, it seems to me, is what Paul is meaning when he used the word ‘yoked together’.

I began to search through my relationships.  Are there any that would lead me away for Jesus?  This is my take away tonight as I meditate and pray.

Lord, fidelity to You is of utmost importance. May every relationship I have draw me closer to you. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Friday, June 26: 2Corinthians 5- Ambassador for Christ.

Ambassador is an important governmental position. Ambassadors represent the government and its leaders to a foreign people. Ambassadors are the voice of the President, Prime Minister or whatever the governmental leader is called.

According to Paul we are God’s ambassadors in this world. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us… (8). If that is so then we represent God to this world!

I let that sink in… God has appointed me (and you) as His ambassador to the human race. We make God known so that people can be reconciled to God through Jesus Christ.

As I write this, I sit in a crowded international airport. I am God’s ambassador here, right now! What should an ambassador do?

I guess I should embody God, my Savior, as best I can… my attitude, my demeanor, my politeness should reflect our God, who seeks to reconcile others to Himself. And when given an opportunity I should, on behalf of the Lord, make God’s appeal, inviting people to be reconciled.

What an awesome responsibility…

Lord, empower me to be the best ambassador I was created to be. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Thursday, June 25: 2Corinthians 4- renouncing the ungodly.

Devotions are different each day. This morning the first words of verse 2 gripped me. We have renounced secret and shameful ways…

Thoughts about what God has required me to renounce seized me. I was not involved with cults or false idols before I began my walk with Jesus, so I didn’t have those kinds of secret things to renounce.

There were secret compartments of my life that I did have to open and then surrender to Jesus. I had aspirations, relationships and behaviors that could not or should not continue if I were to abide with Jesus.

My thoughts went to those places this morning and I pondered and probed their roots in my life to examine if I honestly dealt with them at the core…

And so my morning went as I sat with my Lord this morning.

Lord, I pray that I have been honest with myself and that I have truly looked deep into the areas You need me to deal with. Lord, I do this as part of my surrender to You, my Lord and my God.

I ask, too, if there are areas in my life that You want me to begin dealing with, that until now I have not recognized as an area for growth. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Wednesday, June 24: 2Corinthians 3- Our letter of recommendation.

Paul writes that the Corinthians were his letter of recommendation for ministry. Do we need, like some people, letters of recommendation to you or from you? You yourselves are our letter… (1b-2a).

This statement got me thinking.  What would be my letter of recommendation of my faith and ministry?  I am not an apostle so I cannot point to some church founded or body of believers worshipping somewhere that didn’t exist until I arrived and planted that church. So what is my imprint of ministry and faith?

I looked outside at my backyard as I was pondering this. Over the 13 years we have lived here my wife and I have completely re-sculpted the gardens. Oh, the terraced rock walls are the same but beyond that, the plantings, the colors, the fenced in portion, the outdoor lighting and speakers and so on, are all our imprint on the back yard.

People leave an imprint wherever they live…

This thought of an imprint helped me reframe the Lord’s nudge in my heart. What is my faith-imprint? I don’t have to be an apostle to have a faith imprint…

Lives impacted… I thought about some people along the way whose lives I touched for God and for good. (Who might you point to… people you have touched?)

I thought about ministries/programs in the churches I have been a part of that I maybe helped start or I simply volunteered and worked with. Sunday school classes taught, church dinners I helped set up, clean up. My list wasn’t filled with big or notable things as much as small acts of service… (What might you point to… things you have done to build God’s kingdom?)

These are our letters of recommendation, our faith-imprint…

And this got me thinking, now toward the future. What would I wish my faith-imprint to be? Are there people God has laid on my heart whom I might impact for God and for good? Are there ministry ideas or programs that I can support with my time, talent or finances?

O, Lord God, I want to leave an imprint for You in my world. When I leave this world and go to be with You, I want there to be a garden of lives and services rendered in Your name and for Your glory that speak of my life lived for You. Amen.



Monday, June 22: 2Corinthians 1- Prayer makes a difference.

We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many (8-11).

Paul and friends suffered under great pressure and even despaired of life… those are words of tremendous anguish. I like to muse on Paul, the great missionary, evangelist, apostle… miracles, many being saved, traveling the world. And although this was certainly part of the story it was not the entire story, not by a long shot. Paul also endured great suffering for the sake of his calling as an apostle.

But what struck me and led me toward God’s heart this morning were the 2 phrases I bolded in the reading.

as you help us by your prayers…

in answer to the prayers of many…

The prayers of the saints for Paul made a difference. Paul was convinced of this. The Holy Spirit wanted us to know this, inspiring Paul to put these words in Holy Writ.

Prayer makes a difference. Prayer matters.

We have long established tradition at my church to pray for anyone heading out on a short or long term mission or ministry trip. Sometimes I wonder just how important that is. Paul reminds me that those moments are VERY important.

We have another long established tradition of prayer teams available to pray with and for anyone at worship for any need. This, too, I am reminded is HIGHLY important.

I have a friend who has begun praying with some teachers and staff at the local school after school weekly. I don’t know what a godly affect this will have but it will affect the school. It really will.

Prayer matters… it really does.

As we pray for others, God does things in the heavens.  Our prayers affect those people, movements, and advances of the kingdom.

Prayer matters… it really does.

Lord, teach me to pray with greater passion, regularity and faith for the sake of saints around the world and for the sake of Your kingdom’s advance to the ends of the earth. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.


Tuesday, June 23: 2Corinthians 2- The aroma of Christ.

I love it when I come home in the winter and my wife has had a chicken soup cooking on the stove all day. The house is filled with this wonderful aroma that jumps on me as soon as I open the door. Or similarly in the summer when I arrive at a friend’s house and the BBQ is fired up and the meats are already cooking… ahh, the aroma of a summer BBQ!

In like fashion, we are to be the aroma of Jesus in the world.

But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing (14-15).

I am to be God’s pleasing perfume in the world today.

The word perfume kicks off another set of thoughts and images in my meditation. Some women, with just a touch of perfume, can turn a head as their scent, their aroma, wafts by.

I am to be God’s pleasing scent in the world today.

The goal of my living for Jesus is to be so pleasant and pleasing that people are drawn to Jesus. My life is to add aroma to a world often filled with the scent of hatred, bigotry and other malice…

Lord, help me to live pleasingly on Your behalf and so become a pleasing aroma for You in my world. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.  


Saturday, June 20: Psalm 46- .

The opening of this Psalm immediately put me at peace. Actually these words touch me like this every time I read them. Whatever anxieties I may be carrying, whatever pressure or even oppression I might be experiencing, this Psalm, and particularly the opening 3 verses, breathe life into me.

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.

I have lived near the ocean most of my life. I have seen waves churn and crash, propelled by powerful storms. I have lived through life-storms and been awash in confusion, doubt, fear, and anger as people I thought I could trust betrayed me. I have wondered, “What will I do?”  My calling and career seems to be crashing and burning…  

And yet, through it all, God was my refuge and my strength. God was present as trouble smashed against me. Despite confusion and wondering about what was going to be, I knew God was with me and I knew I need not fear.

These words touch an existential place in my life and they breathe life into me. And they do so every time I read them. I suspect they did so for the Psalmist and have done so for millions of the Lord’s people over the millennia.

Today, even though I am not in a stormy period of life, as I set eyes on these verses and read them, a deep and abiding peace washes over and into my life yet again.

I pray they do the same for you as well…

Lord, I am awed by You, Your care, Your love, Your presence. How sweet it is to recognize Your presence.

You, O Lord, are my refuge and strength. You, O Lord, are always a help in times of trouble. And because of You and Your presence, I will not fear. I need not fear because my life is in Your hands. And no matter what happens, that is a safe place to be. Alleluia. Amen.


Friday, June 19: Psalm 45- A wedding song.

God is present in the ordinary of life.  The king is getting married. The Psalmist offers his gift of words to honor the event. My heart is stirred by a noble theme as I recite my verses for the king; my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer.

Do I offer my skills during or for the ordinary of life? Do I give life my best? The Psalmist did and so honored the king and the Lord since these words are part of eternal Scripture. Do I make my offerings of the ordinary… reports for work, meetings with people, celebrations of life events… do I live these as if I were doing them for the Lord God Almighty?

Do I see the Lord in the ordinary of life? Do I see His hand behind the scenes orchestrating things for His honor and glory and the advance of His kingdom? Do I see God’s hand in the blessings of life (2)?

James reminds us that all good and perfect gifts come from above (James 1:17). Do I see the good and blessings in life as gift from God? God is truly present in the ordinary of life… bringing His life and blessing to them.

As I live today… will I notice the hand of God at work, sustaining, creating, connecting, redeeming, restoring?

O, God, help me to look for Your hand in the ordinary today. Help me to see You in the beauty of the day, the people whose paths I cross today, the offerings of work and prayer throughout the day. Even in the relaxations of the day, help me to see You and Your graces… I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Thursday, June 18: 1Corinthians 16- Hold on to Jesus.

Verses 8-9 drew me into meditation and contemplation today. But I will stay on at Ephesus until Pentecost, because a great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me.

My heart pondered the polar nature of Paul’s words in verse 9, a great door of effective work open to me while in the same breath he says there are many who oppose me.

Following Jesus and doing His Word is hard work, at least that has been my experience. While there are wonderful moments of joy, power, advance, connectedness and effectiveness, this rarely comes without cost. While James may counsel us to “consider it all joy” those words are spoken about trials that will come our way (see James 1).

Life, even Gospel life, is generally a mixed bag. Even as Paul is experiencing great effectiveness, he is at the same time facing opposition. In fact he says many oppose him.

Even as good days of ministry are enjoyed, they do not necessarily come easily… opposition, pain, attack, are often present in abundance at the same time.

For me this forces me to keep my eyes on Jesus. I constantly need His grace and strength to keep going. I constantly need forgiveness when I let the opposition get to me and respond poorly. And in my times with the Lord I am reminded, too, that great effectiveness is much less about me and how ‘good’ I am or the ‘gifts’ I have as it is about God’s timing and the movement of the Holy Spirit through me. In the end, it is all about Jesus… His work to be done, His effectiveness through me and relying on His strength to hold up under opposition.

Ministry, like life, is a mixed bag… holding onto Jesus is the best and only real option.

Lord, Jesus, thank You for never leaving or forsaking me. Thank You for always being there. Thank You for mercy in times of trouble and grace to be effective for You.

Thank You for Your Word which is always rich and a wide doorway to Your heart and voice. I love You, Lord. Thanks be to You for saving me. Amen.


Wednesday, June 17: 1Corinthians 15- Resurrection is sure and certain!.

Today my heart was drawn to what Paul called ‘of first importance’ and I meditated there.

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time…(3-6).

Jesus died for our [MY] sins… Jesus died a meaningful death. His death was for our, MY, sins. Because of all the junk and sin and hurts and wrongs I have done Jesus died. And this is not some prisoner of war story where one prisoner dies because someone in the camp did something wrong. NO, Jesus died to atone for my sins. To pay the penalty that my sins deserved and because Jesus died for my sins, I do not have to face the penalty my sins deserve. It is as if I am on death row and Jesus goes into the death chamber instead of me…

O, Jesus ,I praise and thank You! My heart rejoices in You, my God, My Savior!

He was buried… Jesus really and truly died. It was no shame or fake… he died and then was put in a grave, which everyone thought was a permanent situation. He took my sins and buried them with Him. My sins are gone, buried…

Again I thank and praise You, Jesus. I should no more dig up my past sins as I should dig up some dead body. They are gone… my sins are gone, forgiven! Halleluiah.

He was raised… Now God does something new and unexpected. It was not the end of Jesus as we expected. He was raised. Hope was born. There is more to life than what I live in this mortal body the 70 or 80 years I get before I die. There is a full life, a new life, a fully-spiritual life after the grave. Jesus is the first fruit… I [we] am of the next crop of fruit. Since He died for my sins I will live again like Jesus lived again. This tells me, too, that I am living for much more than what I see here in the life if live right now. I have one foot in this world, but another, figuratively, in the next and I need to live as a child of both worlds…

O, God, I have a purpose bigger than making sure I have a plan for retirement. I have a purpose that will last for eternity and I need to live like that. Help me, O God, help me. I can become so ‘this world’ focused. Forgive me and help me live to honor You.

According to the Scriptures… God’s Word, the Bible, the Old and New Testaments is true and secure and faithful and reliable. I can build my life on the surety of God’s Word.

O, God, I trust Your Word. Help me to read it and study it and meditate on it WELL. O, Holy Spirit, open my eyes to the truth of Your Word.

He appeared… Jesus didn’t keep His resurrection a secret… He told people, lots of people. He told the 12, His closest associates but He also told many more. That He told 500 shouts to me Jesus wanted the world to know that He was raised. Jesu’s resurrection was not a magician’s parlor trick. It was real and people knew it.  And, apparently these people told people and so that chain of witnesses has stretched its links all the way to me.  Now I need to continue the chain and tell others… that Jesus died for their sins, was buried and was raised, according to the Scriptures, and then He appeared to people.

O, God, give me unction to tell others the great and awesome story of our faith… the story of Jesus, who died for them. Amen


Tuesday, June 16: 1Corinthians 14- God Speaks

God speaks... these are the words that imprinted on my heart as I read this chapter. As I listened below all the tongues and prophecy in worship instruction from Paul, I realized how deeply Paul anticipated that the Lord would speak to His people regularly. That just warmed my heart.

God speaks! God communicates with His people. This so blesses me. Our God is not some mute statue or “idea.” Our God is a living God who connects and communicates with us. Every fiber in me is shouting, ‘YEAH’!  I serve and follow a living, connecting and communicating God.

I know this to be true in my life. Every day I sit with my Bible in hand or pray, I experience God who speaks. To see this confirmed in the text and to hear it confirmed in my heart during my mediations this morning draws me even closer to the God I love and serve.

Lord, thank You. Thank You for speaking and for listening and answering and being a God who cares about me. Thank You and bless You. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.


Monday, June 15: 1Corinthians 13- Love.

Right smack in the middle of one of Paul’s most pointed and strong corrections, he writes the most beautiful description about LOVE.

This LOVE is what keeps the community from tearing itself apart. This LOVE is what glues people and Christ-communities together.

I am convinced a person cannot manufacture this kind of love simply through human goodness or strength of will or any other solely human trait. NO, this kind of love is only found when it is infused into the human heart by God.

Be honest.  Can you manufacture love like this?

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres (4-7).

Just look at the descriptors Paul uses for LOVE... Patient, kind, non-envious, not boastful, not proud and so on. Oh, I can produce some of these some of the time, but I cannot live any one of them all of the time. Much less live all of them all of the time. LOVE like this simply is not possible through human strength alone.

Fortunately, God’s Word tells us elsewhere (see Galatians 5:22; 1John 4:7ff) that God will infuse this (and other) fruit of the Spirit in us as we walk and rely on Him. And even if we fall short regularly, which I do, this LOVE remains both the ideal and the goal as we live in connection with God –Father, Jesus and Holy Spirit.

Thoughts and questions about how to live this way today now gained the upper hand in my thoughts. What does it mean for me to LOVE people in my life like this today? What would I do for them? How would I think about them? What would I give up or surrender because of LOVE for them? And this is where I spent the remaining time with Jesus today…

How about you?  How can you love the others in your life with this kind of LOVE today?

Lord, help me to embody Your LOVE, this LOVE to others today. I pray this in Your name, Jesus. Amen.


Saturday, June 13: 1Corinthians 12- The wonder of the body.

The human body is wonder-full organism. The intricacies of its inner workings is amazing. I am not a biology major. What I know about how the body works pales in comparison to what doctors, scientists and medical & mental health professionals know. And, yet, I still am in awe and wonder with how the body works…how the brain controls motor movements, thoughts, hormone delivery… amazing. How something seeming insignificant, when it is not right, can affect the whole body. A vitamin deficiency can affect eyesight and health. How a sore or sprained ankle can throw a hip or back out of joint. And, like I said, I know very little compared to what is known about the human body. The body is a work of genius.

Paul makes an analogy between the human body and the body of Christ, the church. As the human body is all interconnected so is the church. I need every one and everyone needs me. We all play a role, and every role is important. When one part suffers, we all suffer together with that one part.

Tomorrow I will gather with my church family after being away for 3 weeks in West Africa. I am really looking forward to being with my body. And as I look around that room I will have a deeper appreciation for each part gathered in the name of Jesus.

And having just spent time with churches in West Africa, I realize, too, that what Paul says about a local church is true for the whole Church as well. We all need each other. Different denominations and different people groups are indispensible parts of the ‘capital C’ Church just like different people are indispensible parts of a local assembly of the church.

Risk a few minutes of contemplation and think about how much you need others in the church and how much they need YOU!

Dear God, thank You for this grand organism called the church. Help me to appreciate her more and more every day I live and help me to do all You would have me do in my church and for the Church. I pray in Jesus’ Name. Amen.


Friday, June 12: 1Corinthians 11- Proclaim His death until he comes.

I found myself drawn to verse 26: For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. As many times as I have celebrated the Lord’s Supper and as many times as I have officiated the celebration of the Lord’s Table, it is this phrase that makes me think.

Why is it that the Table proclaims Jesus death rather than His resurrection? Am I the only person that wonders about this?

Today I entertained that thought. And the more I pondered, the more I came to realize that it was Jesus’ death that accomplished the work of salvation. “It is finished,” Jesus sighed from the cross as he breathed his last (John 19:30). The work of salvation was done. The penalty for human sin was paid. The perfect Lamb of God was sacrificed.

Jesus’ death is the defining moment of the faith. Jesus predicted it and Jesus went through with it so that we could be ransomed.

At the Table we remember His body and His blood. “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me” (24-25).

The Table points to His death… so the Table itself proclaims His death.

After I mused on all this, I switched gears and thought about what Jesus did for me. He died for me, so that I could be forgiven, ransomed and welcomed back into the family of God!

My heart grew more and more grateful to Jesus for all He did to save me.

I am and will be forever grateful to Jesus and His saving grace and atoning death. I delight in proclaiming His death until He comes. There is nothing better to proclaim!

Great God, Thank You for Jesus. Lord Jesus, thank You for saving me, for dying for me and offering Your perfect life for my decrepit life. Holy Spirit, thank You for working in me so that I might believe in Jesus and so be saved. Glory to my God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.


Thursday, June 11: 1Corinthians 10- Do good for others.

One thought grabbed hold of me during my reading time. Verse 24: No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.

First, I personalized it. I should not seek my own good, but the good of others.

Next, I stared at it, really. I sat and looked at that sentence as if it were the only object in my view. The words started to press into my heart and soul.

I should not seek my own good… come on really. Who will look after me? Be honest if I don’t who will? All kinds of rationalizations wore a path through my thoughts. This is so counter to how I generally live. I am at the center of my world… and, yet, these words press in. I should not seek my own good…

Not ever? More rationalization.

I gazed back at the whole sentence. I should not seek my own good, but the good of others. Not only am I to be selfless, I am to be other centered. I should seek …the good of others. Not only am I not to indulge myself, I should look for ways to do good to others. I need to lift my eyes from my own navel and look out in the world. Where can I help? Where can I do good? How can I be a positive force in my world for the sake of others?

It hit me; God is asking me to live like Jesus. He cared and lived for others. I can think of no Jesus story where He was ‘all about Himself.” Jesus embodied this way of living so when I don’t know what to do, I can watch Him and see how He reacted in life situations.

Lord, to be like You, Jesus… it is a big calling, a huge change of life. But through the power of Your Holy Spirit, who lives in me I can do it. I can become more and more like You.

Thank You, Lord, for this high calling. Amen.


Wednesday, June 10: 1Corinthians 9- Sold out to advance God's reign.

In yesterday’s chapter, Paul called us to moderate our behavior so that the way we live does not cause others to fall into sin. Today he writes about setting aside our rights in order to gain a hearing to present Jesus to as many people as possible.

To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings (20-23).

Paul’s example drives me to examine my life. It is not only how willing am I to orient my life to advance the Gospel... Paul’s life-example isn’t theoretical. No, Paul’s example is asking me how am I orienting my life to advance the Gospel?

Paul altered his behavior so his example wouldn’t cause a sister or brother to sin (chapter 8).  And, like a cross-cultural missionary, he altered his behavior so that he could fit in with others in order to share the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul lived a totally surrendered life advancing the Gospel in every way open to him.

How sold out am I to the name of Jesus and advance of His kingdom?  This is the ringing challenge I hear from God’s Word and Spirit today. I certainly don’t come close to Paul’s standard.

My life and calling is different, my circumstances are different and so are my times. However, at the heart-level of life things need not be different.

Am I (are you) sold out to God, Father, Son and Spirit?

Think about it.

O, God, I pray that in the spaces of time today that I have to muse and ponder that this question will those times. Lead me to know how to orient my life to advance Your Gospel near, far and everywhere in between.

O, God, I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Tuesday, June 9: 1Corinthians 8- All we need is love.

Love, love, love… love, love, love... love, love, love 

All you need is love… all you need is love… all you need is love, love, all you need is love.

So the Beatles sang, an entire song about love.

I suspect they had no idea how true their words were, at least their refrain. I also suspect that they didn’t understand God’s view of love, which bursts onto the pages of this letter in verse 1: Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that “We all possess knowledge.” But knowledge puffs up while love builds up.

Love builds up others is Paul’s message. Love looks out for the other person.

The issue is eating meat, which in Corinth came from idol sacrifices. There weren’t supermarkets, so people understood that if you wanted meat it was a leftover from some temple sacrifice. Some sisters and brothers, maybe fresh out of the pagan world, struggled with eating meat because it had the attachment to on idol.

Well, since LOVE build us, love calls him and us to give up meat, if need be, for the sake of our sister or brother who struggles with eating meat. Paul says it plainly in verse 13: Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall.

Paul will moderate his behavior for the sake of others so that they will not fall into sin!

What’s my take-a-way?

I need to think about how I live and moderate my behavior for the spiritual sake of other sisters and brothers. I need to place my rights to do something below its affect on a brother or sister in Jesus.

It is not all about me… it is about growing closer to Jesus for all of us.

Lord, God, I can be so selfish, thinking only about myself and my wants and my this or that. Today’s time with You challenges me to be less ‘self-focused’ and more ‘other-focused’. This will not be easy, Lord.  Help me. Help me for the sake of my growth toward maturity and the advance of Your kingdom. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Monday, June 8: 1Corinthians 7- There is more to life than the things of this world.

Sex, marriage, station in life, Paul addresses very practical concerns of everyday real life.

Does our faith in Jesus impact how we live? This, it seems to me, was the BIG overarching lesson of chapter 7. Does my faith in Jesus affect how I live from the bedroom to the office and everywhere in between?

I was fascinated by verses 29-31 and the concept of living if time is short. Paul wrote: What I mean, brothers and sisters, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they do not; those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away.

I have a house full of stuff.  What does it mean to live placing it all at God’s disposal? What does it mean for me to live ‘sold out’ to Jesus and advancing the Gospel near and far?

Paul is trying to make a point and seems to be speaking in extremes to make his point. I’m married. I don’t think Paul is saying to stop paying attention to my wife and life as if I were single. Earlier in the chapter he talked about not withholding sex from one another. It seems Paul is saying don’t get all enamored with this world; it is passing away.

For starters, I hear the Lord saying, “Don’t make this world and the things of this life my focus. Keep Jesus, the Father, and the Spirit my focus.”

Strong words. What does that mean as far as daily living? I have to chew on this throughout the day…

Lord, show me a few specifics.  What would You have me do, or change with my life? Speak to me, Lord. Lead me. Show me. In Jesus’ name and for the sake of the Gospel, I pray. Amen


Saturday, June 6: 1Corinthians 6- Real people, real problems; tough answers.

If we are going to live with other people, then we are going to have friction. None of us are perfect and when my flaws rub against you and your flaws rub against me we have problems!

Paul discusses lawsuit and sexual immorality in two hard-hitting sections of this chapter. Very different topics but both have the human propensity for sin at the core of the issue.

Paul blasts the church for members taking other members to court over disputes between themselves. Paul’s first directive is, “Couldn’t someone, anyone, in the church adjudicate this case?”

His next point is even tougher. “Why are you seeking your ‘rights’? Why not rather be wronged? “Why not rather be cheated?” ”(7).

The ‘that’s-not-right’ part of me bristles as I read this. Why should he/she get away with this? All of my ‘that’s-not-fair’ arguments tumble out with nary a thought.

Uugghh, I just sit here this morning, confronted by my lack of maturity. Here I sit feeling that the Word of God just isn’t right!

God forbid that I would ever put myself above You. And yet, it seems like that’s what my thoughts are doing right now.

The press of the Lord is heavy upon me right now. How misaligned I am. How out of step with You, I am Lord. Come in and remove the junk from my life.  There is plenty. There is plenty.

O Father, Son and Spirit help me. Help me…


Friday, June 5: 1Corinthians 5- Do not judge outside the church.

The ethics, morals, lifestyles and behaviors of our world seem to be changing at warp speed. Behaviors that would never have been tolerated or condoned 2 decades ago are commonplace today. It is a constant struggle to remain faithful to Jesus and His ethic as our world moves further and further away from Jesus’ way.

What are we to do???

It seems to me that this chapter says we –those who love and follow Jesus –should tow the line of God’s Word. But at the same time, we should not expect people who do not follow Jesus and believe God’s Word, to do likewise.

It seems to me that what we are witnessing in our world is the natural erosion process. As fewer and fewer people profess trust in God’s inspired Word and discipleship of Jesus, we are seeing society shaped by the relative norms of the world rather than God’s will and way. These changes may be uncomfortable, but they shouldn’t be surprising. As Paul says, What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? (12).

The world will do what the world will do. I can speak my voice, but not judge!

It will likely become more uncomfortable for me to live up to God’s standards, rather than the world standards, but that is my calling as a Christ-follower.

The Lord never said that following Jesus would be easy; it never has been and it never will be, this side of eternity.

Lord, I pray for grace to remain true to You, to hold myself and the church to Your high standards while at the same time NOT judging people who are not part of Your church. Lord, help me, please, with this so that I might live as a loving light for You in my world. I pray in Jesus name. Amen.


Thursday, June 4: 1Corinthians 4- Four thoughts.

Four thoughts.  Where to linger???

Verse 7: For 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?

Why do I (we) boast about things we have or what we have made of ourselves, etc., etc., etc.? Paul is right.  Everything I have, I have been given as a gift. My middle class upbringing… gift. My educational opportunities… gift. My health, jobs, the list goes on… all gifts.  They are gifts in the sense that I didn’t earn them, they were granted to me. So rather than boasting, I guess I should be thankful and use them to God’s glory.

Verses 11-13 (see also 9&10): To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless. We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; when we are slandered, we answer kindly. We have become the scum of the earth, the garbage of the world—right up to this moment.

When Paul needs to boast about his apostleship, these are the things he writes about, his dedication seen in persecution, slander, homelessness, brutal treatment. How vast the gulf between this and what many “big names of the faith” boast about today. I have particularly been  thinking about a number of televangelists and prosperity preachers who flaunt worldly riches as proof of their faithfulness. How far we have fallen from the truth and example of the men and women of the early church who sacrificed everything for the name of Jesus.

Verses 16-17 Therefore I urge you to imitate me. For this reason I have sent to you Timothy, …. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church.

Imitate me… my way of life which agrees with what I teach. Consistency, integrity, honesty and above all, non-hypocritical. Paul teaches what he lives and lives what he teaches. How refreshing. Lord, may this be said of me when life is over and my journey is laid bear for all to see. May this be said of all of us who follow Jesus, our Lord.

Verse 20 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power. Words only communicate so much. Paul constantly refers to the power of God in his life, ministry and teaching.

Lord, where is the power today… in the church? In my life and living for You? Lord, am I such a son of the enlightenment that I have lost the sense of Your power, which can’t be proved by science, only experienced by Your grace?

Well, I guess I chose to linger a while with each of the four. J

Thank You, Lord God, for the richness of Your Word and the many ways it can and does touch my life every time I spend time with it. Praise be to You, Lord God.

May I grow to be more and more like my Savior Jesus and may I more and more imitate the apostles and great sisters and brothers of the faith from generations past. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.









Wednesday, June 3: 1Corinthians 3- Grow up.

As I regularly do, I sat and mused over the chapter after reading it. I glanced up and down wondering what portion would cut its way into my inner self. After a few moments two words charged through my thoughts, Grow Up. Stop being a child, an infant. These were the verses that dug into my heart.

Brothers 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. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans? (1-3).

So often I (we) define spiritual as people who have a rich and deep prayer life. They seem to pray about everything. Or maybe it is the person who can quote a Scripture for every occasion. Maybe it is the preacher who can speak eloquently week after week, or that missionary that lives in some far away land, or the super Christian like Billy Graham or Mother Teresa. And while all of them may be examples of maturity, Paul suggests there is another dimension… our behavior.

Who were the immature and the worldly in verses 1-3? The people who gave jealousy and quarreling a foothold in their lives. They may have been the deepest prayers or even miracle workers or people with the gift of tongues or prophecy (this will emerge in chapters 12-14), but if they destroy the body by their poor interpersonal behavior, Paul calls them immature and worldly!

It hit me… do I get along with others in the body? Do I get along with others in my life? I flashed to Galatians 5:22-23 and the Fruit of the Spirit that Paul uses to describe the spiritual and mature in that letter… (Galatians 5:22-23: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.). People who exhibit these traits bring life to a community of people. Those who sow jealousy and quarreling, sow discord and destruction.

During my time with the Lord this morning, God said, “GROW UP, learn to live and play well with others. Build others up and stop worrying about yourself!”

This is my food from the Word for today.

Lord, God, point out to me today as I live throughout the day what it means to be mature and ‘grown up.’ Show me the behaviors of the mature… and help me gain them in my life. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen


Tuesday, June 2: 1Corinthians 2- Where is the power.

After reading the sentences that make up verses 4-5, I found myself wondering what the community of faith and what evangelism and preaching looked like for Paul, compared to what I see in the 21st century.

My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power (4-5).

Most of us live in a reason-driven world. I know I do. I found myself recalling some book titles that have been guided me and generations of believers:

Know Why You Believe, Paul Little

Evidence That Demands a Verdict, Josh McDowell

A Case for Christ, Lee Strobel

These are evidence based books. Know the facts and Christianity makes sense. Don’t mistake where I am wrestling this morning. Evidence is fine, even good. But go back and read what Paul wrote again, I have multiple times…

My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power (4-5).

We have the facts, but where is the power, I mused?

We have the wise and persuasive words week after week in worship but where is the power?

We have the touching, engaging, worship songs but where is the power?

Where is the power that changes lives?  Where is the power that overrides logic and causes the skeptic to cry, I believe? That bolsters the faithful, reminding them why I believe in God; a big, awesome God.

I thought and mused and wondered.  Where is the power Paul writes about???

O, God, my heart yearns for both sides of the equation… the power Paul speaks of, as well as the message of wisdom that comes from Yo,u God (6-8).

Lord, am I selfish to want it all… for the sake of a healthy, alive, reaching out, drawing in church here where I live and spreading out around this earth to every corner land, language and tongue. Fill Your church, Lord God, with ALL OF YOU. I pray. And start right here with me… Amen and Amen.


Monday, June 1: 1Corinthians 1- Some don't understand.

Some people think this entire Christianity thing with Jesus dying on the cross and all the rest is crazy, nuts, it doesn't make sense, is a crutch for the weak, and so on. Verse 18: For 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, reminds me it has been so from the beginning. Some people just don’t understand.

I am nothing special, just a normal guy. I don’t know why faith in Jesus makes sense, but it does to me, completely. I buy it. I have surrendered my life to Jesus, my Savior, my Lord. And I don’t regret a moment.

Sometimes I feel hurt or embarrassed when others don’t understand and particularly when they ridicule me and look down on me. Sometimes I don’t know what to say so that they understand. But all of the times I am grateful that faith in Jesus makes sense to me, that the Bible is a book I treasure and it speaks to me day after day after day. And, yes, I believe the message of the cross is the power of God to cancel the guilt and shame of sin and set me free to live for God rather than self. And in this I rejoice!

In fact, as I mull over all this, I can feel my heart welling up with joy in the God who saved me, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And it is to this I now pray.

O, God, I praise You that You took the blinders off my eyes and I can see You, and in my limited human way, believe in You. I praise You for my forgiveness. I praise You for my Sonship. I praise You for the joy I have seeing You in the world around me and carrying You in my heart always. I praise You, Holy Father, Blessed Jesus, Promised Holy Spirit, for saving me and calling me to help tell the world that You are real and You are the only true God. Amen.