Service One-a-Day Monday  4/22/24

You know that the household of Stephanas were the first converts in Achaia, and they have devoted themselves to the service of the saints. I urge you, brothers, to submit to such as these, and to everyone who joins in the work and labors at it (1 Corinthians 16:15-16).

Service

Seems kind of boring.

I don’t know what Stephanas and his folk were involved in. 

Maybe they were greeters

or parking attendants.

Perhaps they did dishes after the church potluck

or changed diapers in the children’s ministry.

I don’t know how they served, just that they served–the whole family.

It probably wasn’t glamorous, because most service isn’t.

Paul says we should submit to people like Stephanas, because he has devoted his life to the people of God, and therefore, to God himself.

How about you, Beloved? 

Who are you serving, and how?

Happy Monday, Beloved

Love One-a-Day Friday 4/19/24

A life worthy

Do everything in love  (1 Corinthians 16:14).

Love is more than an emotion.

More than an action

It’s an attitude.

When you love someone, you are putting them first.

Their life, their needs, their desires come before your own.

To love is to daily lay down your life, in ways both big and small.

God has shown us his love in the Son.

In fact, in ways I cannot begin to fathom–much less explain–God is love.

So when you approach the world in love, you emulate your Father, and you are one with him. You are fulfilling the very purpose for which you were brought into being.

So…do that.

Happy Friday, Beloved

Strong One-a-Day Thursday  4/18/24

A life worthy

Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong  (1 Corinthians 16:13).

You are in a battle.

You are under attack from multiple directions.

Society fills your head with lies about who you are and what you should want and be and do.

The enemy seeks to devour you, one minute telling you you are good for nothing, the next trying to convince you that you should be king of the world. 

Your own heart will betray you, rising up to claim the throne that is rightly God’s.

You must stand and fight, Beloved. Fight for your very self, fight to the limits of your strength and beyond, knowing two things:

First, your strength will not be enough.

Second, you do not fight alone.

You have a Champion who fights with you, and who will bring you victory.

But you are still called to strap on the armor, pick up your sword, and stand.

So…do that.

Happy Thursday, Beloved.

Apollos One-a-Day Wednesday 4/17/24

A life worthy

Now about our brother Apollos: I strongly urged him to go to you with the brothers. He was quite unwilling to go now, but he will go when he has the opportunity (1 Corinthians 16:12).

Our brother Apollos

Do you remember Apollos? He is kind of a background character in Acts, a traveling preacher and teacher who was spreading the gospel in the same areas as Paul. He was at the heart of some rather unpleasant controversy in Corinth. Remember back in the first chapter, where, “One of you says ‘I follow Paul’; another, ‘I follow Apollos’; another, ‘I follow Cephas’; still another, ‘I follow Christ.’?”

Yep, that Apollos

The Corinthians saw Paul and Apollos as competitors.

Paul did not.

Paul seems to have considered Apollos a fellow worker, a partner in the gospel.

A brother

Beloved, look around. Do you see others as competition to be bested, or as partners to embrace? 

When in doubt, I vote to embrace.

Happy Wednesday, Beloved

Timid  One-a-Day Tuesday  4/16/24

A life worthy

When Timothy comes, see to it that he has nothing to fear while he is with you, for he is carrying on the work of the Lord, just as I am. No one, then, should treat him with contempt. Send him on his way in peace so that he may return to me. I am expecting him along with the brothers  (1 Corinthians 16:10-11).

Peter seems to have been kind of a forceful guy.

James and John…well they had the nickname Sons of Thunder, so there’s that.

Paul was certainly not afraid to bring the hammer.

Timothy…well it seems he was kind of timid. 

In Paul’s letters to Timothy we see that he was devout, but young and given to anxiety. I think that Timothy was perhaps the kind of man that many would ignore.

But Paul saw the Spirit of God at work in Timothy, and he wasn’t going to let anyone, not even Timothy himself, get in the way of the Lord’s ministry through him. Paul is protective, even fatherly, toward his young friend, and he makes it clear that he expects the Corinthians to look out for him.

Two things…no, three things: 

First, I want someone like that in my life. I want a mentor who will encourage me, strengthen me, and point me toward my destiny in Christ.

Second, I want to be someone like that in the life of another.

Third, I love that, through Timothy, God reminds us that he uses all sorts of people. You don’t need to be charismatic or dynamic or a social powerhouse. You can speak softly, so long as you speak for Him.

So you don’t have to be Paul, or Peter, or even Timothy.

You just have to be you, but be you for him.

Happy Tuesday, Beloved

Opposition One-a-Day Monday  4/15/24

A life worthy

But I will stay on at Ephesus until Pentecost, because a great door to effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me (1 Corinthians 16:8-9).

Wait a minute…

So, Paul is using the fact that many are opposing him as a reason to stay, not as a reason to leave.

Remember, Beloved, that by oppose Paul probably means imprison, beat, hit with rocks, and basically try to end.

And Paul looks at that as a good thing.

Is Paul, you know…all right?

Winston Churchill is credited with the quote, “If you have no enemies, you have never stood up for anything.”

Paul would have understood that.

I think Paul saw the opposition he faced as evidence that he was being effective in his ministry. After all, no one would try to stop him if he weren’t having an impact.

So, while I don’t think Paul was masochistic, I do think he welcomed the attacks. 

It meant he was doing the work.

It meant the Holy Spirit was changing lives.

Beloved, are you willing to ruffle feathers, even anger people, for the sake of the gospel? Are you willing to take the occasional rock that comes your way?

Remember, you are not called to be obnoxious. But, if you’re doing your job, you will make enemies.

And you will be excellent company.

Happy Monday, Beloved

Travel Plans One-a-Day Friday    4/12/24

A life worthy

After I go through Macedonia, I will come to you–for I will be going through Macedonia. Perhaps I will stay with you awhile, or even spend the winter, so that you can help me on my journey, wherever I go. I do not want to see you now and make only a passing visit; I hope to spend some time with you, if the Lord permits (1 Corinthians 16:5-7).

The key to this passage?

Final phrase

If the Lord permits 

Paul had originally planned to leave Ephesus, where he was writing this letter, and go to Corinth on his way to Macedonia. But now Paul tells the Corinthians that he is going to wait and see them on the way back from Macedonia. 

This, as it happens, is going to seriously annoy the Corinthians, to the point where some will call Paul out for being unreliable and flakey. In his next letter (2 Corinthians) Paul will deal with that, pointing out that he wanted to give them some time to digest this letter–rebukes and all– and make some changes before he got there, so that his visit could be a pleasant one and not a smackdown.

But that conversation will happen in another letter. For now, we simply get the change of plans, Paul’s hope to spend more time with them as a result of the change, and the phrase if the Lord permits.

If the Lord permits

It’s a reminder that Paul is not conducting the orchestra. He’s just playing his fiddle. The Lord God Almighty is conductor, and composer, and creator of heaven and earth.  Paul, and the rest of us, are called to faithfully follow the music God has written, on the instrument he has given us, with the talent he has granted and the skill we have worked to attain. 

I play third kazoo, as it turns out. But I do what I can.

Happy Friday, Beloved

The Plan   One-a-Day Thursday  4/11/24

A life worthy

Now about the collection for God’s people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do. On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income, saving it up, so that when I come no collection will have to be made. Then, when I arrive, I will give letters of introduction to the men you approve and send them with your gift to Jerusalem. If it seems advisable for me to go also, they will accompany me  (1 Corinthians 16:1-4).

As Paul heads into the final portion of his letter, he starts wrapping up the miscellany. He’s going to talk logistics about his travel plans, make sure he gets his greetings in, and generally tie this massive epistle up with a bow. The first detail Paul covers is the collection for Jerusalem. The believers in Jerusalem were having it rough. Between a food shortage and a persecution surplus, they were in need, and their brothers and sisters in Corinth were going to help.

You know, Beloved, what I think I like best about this passage is that Paul has a plan. This isn’t a panicky, emotion-laden response to an emotional plea. It is a well considered strategy that checks some important boxes:

It is specific–the folks in Jerusalem needed food and basic supplies, and the Corinthians are going to help supply that need.

It is orderly–the Corinthians would give to the fund weekly, allowing them the time to pray and plan how much they would give.

It is above-board–there is accountability here. The Corinthians would send the money through people they trusted, who would be able to see that it was delivered to the right people in the right way.

Money doesn’t always solve problems, but in this case it could. The believers responded to the need and gave generously and wisely. It’s an example for us all to follow.

On a completely unrelated topic, I could really use a new car…

Happy Thursday, Beloved

The Collection One-a-Day Wednesday  4/10/24

A life worthy

Welcome back to 1 Corinthians! We’ve made it to the final chapter, and here we go!

Now about the collection for God’s people…(1 Corinthians 16:1).

Uh oh

Money

It tends to make people twitch.

When the subject of giving comes up in church, you just know some people are thinking

Awww, Man!

They’re talking about money again.

Why are church people always talking about money?

Maybe because “Church People” know, as Paul knew, as Jesus knew, that money can be a really sticky point for people. 

The image that comes to my mind this morning is the old Monkey Jar Trap. 

You don’t know about the old Monkey Jar Trap?

Well, you need to.

It goes something like this: if you want to catch a monkey unharmed–because why would you hurt a monkey–you get a jar with a wide bottom and a narrow top. You put something delightful, say a little rice or a marble, in the bottom of the jar. The monkey comes along, puts his hand in the jar, grabs the niftiness, and pulls his hand out of the jar.

Except he can’t

because his closed fist doesn’t fit through the narrow opening of the jar.

The only way for the monkey to free himself is to let go of his treasure, which he will not do, as he is a monkey. 

And so he is caught…by himself.

You, Beloved, are not a monkey, so I will leave you to connect the dots.

Happy Wednesday, Beloved

Standing Firm One-a-Day Tuesday 4/9/24

A life worthy

When the storm has swept by, the wicked are gone, but the righteous stand firm forever (Proverbs 10:25).

What storm are you weathering today, Beloved?

Career?  Relational?  Health?  Financial? Emotional?

You will survive it.  The promise is right here in this verse.  

The wicked—the children of this world—are swept away by the storms of life.  That makes sense, because this life, this world, is everything to them.  Literally, it is all they have.  When it blows away, they go with it.

But you are different.

You are his.

Your roots are sunk deep, not into the shifting sands of this world, but into the solid rock of Christ.

Aren’t they?

If that question gives you pause, you may want to spend a little time before the Throne of Grace this morning, getting your righteousness on.

By the way, don’t let that word, “righteousness,” spook you.  It doesn’t mean you have to be perfect.  Righteousness simply means you have a right relationship with God, that when the Father looks at you, he sees past the sin to the Son who died to pay for that sin.  Your sins are forgiven, your debt is paid, and you are right with God—righteous.

So, if you have any business to do with God this morning—any confession, any repentance, any receiving of grace—do it.  Make sure, before you step out into the storm, that your roots are deep in the Rock.

Stand firm, Beloved.

Happy Tuesday