A Father in Christ One-a-Day Tuesday 9/13/22

A life worthy

I am not writing this to you to shame you, but to warn you, as my dear children. Even though you have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. Therefore I urge you to imitate me. (1 Corinthians 4:14-16)

There’s so much I love in this.

I love that Paul considers himself their spiritual Father. After all, he brought them to Jesus. He was God’s instrument for their rebirth. It makes sense that he feels this relationship toward the Corinthians.

I love that Paul doesn’t use that relationship to make demands of the Corinthians. He doesn’t demand support or obedience because of his role in their lives. Instead, he warns them, he instructs them, and he teaches them, as a good father would.

I love that Paul has the confidence to urge his spiritual children to imitate him. None of this “Do as I say, not as I do” business. Paul urges the Corinthians to follow his example, to imitate him and to learn from him.

I want this. I want to have a life in Christ that is worth imitating. And I will, Beloved, because He will get me there.

Live a life that is worthy today–by his grace, and for his glory.

Happy Tuesday, Beloved.

The Cost   One-a-Day Monday 9/12/22

A life worthy

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. Up to this moment we have become the scum of the earth, the refuse of the world.  (1 Corinthians 4:11-13).

What comes first in your life?

Is it comfort? Peace?  Security? Respect?

Or is it Christ?

Trust me, Beloved–I’m asking this question directly into the mirror.

When I consider what Paul went through, what so many of Christ’s followers have gone through over the years and across the globe, I find myself wondering if perhaps I hold my salvation too lightly. Could I, would I, endure what they have endured for the sake of my Lord?

Seriously, I find it difficult to get up half an hour earlier so that I can pray.

Beloved, I’m not asking for trouble. I praise God for the innumerable ways he has blessed me. I just wonder, sometimes, if I have what it takes. 

And then I remember–of course I don’t.

And of course I do.

In my own strength, by my own will, I couldn’t endure a paper cut.

But in His strength? With his arms holding me up and shielding me and guiding me? That would be a different story.

I would read that story.

Happy Monday, Beloved

The Fools and the Wise One-a-Day Friday 9/9/22

A life worthy

We are fools for Christ, but you are so wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are honored, we are dishonored!  (1 Corinthians 4:10).

It would appear that Paul is not finished with the sarcasm. 

I’ve got to admit…I kinda like that.

I mean, sarcasm is such a human thing. So often we see Biblical figures as these perfect, automatonian, Sunday School felt board cutouts. They’re so good they seem inaccessible to us.

Paul, here, is so very human. 

His frustration with the Corinthians spills over into his letter as he takes a moment to point out to them how ludicrous they’re being.

And he’s right, of course. The Corinthians are acting as though they are hot stuff because of their affiliation with the apostles, when the apostles themselves are being continually humbled.

It’s an important reminder, and Paul pretty much sears it into their psyche.

So Beloved, again we are reminded–rejoice in what you have received, but ever mindful of how you came to receive it.

Happy Friday, Beloved

Parade One-a-Day Thursday 9/8/22

A life worthy

For it seems to me that God has put us apostles on display at the end of the procession, like men condemned to die in the arena. We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe, to angels as well as to men (1 Corinthians 4:9).

The image Paul  uses here is of a victory parade. The triumphant army returns home, marching through the city to the cheers and adulation of the crowd.  At the end of the procession are the captives taken in battle. You know, the defeated soldiers.

The losers

They are mocked and jeered at, a laughingstock to amuse the masses.

That’s what Paul is describing, and how he feels as an apostle of Christ.

Do you ever feel that way, Beloved? You may not be an apostle (sorry), but as a follower of Christ. Do you ever feel like the world thinks you’re a joke, an amusement, one who has been defeated and is no longer to be taken seriously?

If so, remember that you are in very good company.

And remember that this image, though it may feel true sometimes, is not. Our journey will not end in the arena, but at the wedding banquet of the Lamb. Our destiny is not slavery and death, but joyful service and peace and joy and life.

Delicious, eternal life

Happy Thursday, Beloved.

Ouch    One-a-Day Wednesday 9/7/22

A life worthy

Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! You have become kings–and this without us! How I wish you really had become kings, so that we might be kings with you! (1 Corinthians 4:8)

Sarcastic, much?

The factions in Corinth had gotten a little arrogant, feeling, oh, maybe a bit superior because their guy–be it Paul, Apollos, or whomever–was popular. Remember how they argued over who had the “best” teacher? And that attitude had led them to believe that, if their pastor was hot stuff, then they must be hot stuff.

Paul chooses to disagree.

Most strenuously

So Paul gets sarcastic with them. This is a method that, as a middle-school teacher, I am well versed in. Paul lampoons his readers with a “Gee, you’re so cool! I wish I could be as awesome as you” attitude.

And it stings.

Beloved, while we rejoice in our position in Christ, let’s remember that it is a gift of God, not merited by any of us. 

Take joy in where you’re going, but remember where you came from.

Happy Wednesday, Beloved.

Grace  One-a-Day Tuesday 9/6/22

A life worthy

For what 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? (1 Corinthians 4:7)

That’s a funny thing with Scripture.

Half the time God is telling you how much he loves you.

The other half, he’s reminding you how little you deserve it.

You are royalty, Beloved.

You have been chosen out of all this world by the King of Everything.

But not because you earned it.

So rejoice…but remember.

Happy Tuesday, Beloved.

What is Written One-a-Day Monday 9/5/22

A life worthy

Now, brothers, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying, “Do not go beyond what is written.” Then you will not take pride in one man over against another.  (1 Corinthians 4:6).

So, what is written about Man?

Well, there’s the “There’s no one righteous; not even one,” part in Psalm 14.

And the bit in Genesis 6 about how, “Every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.”

And, you know, pretty much any part of the book of Judges.

David fell.

And Solomon

Of course Saul before that…

Yep, Scripture is pretty much chock full of examples of why trusting in Man is not such a good idea.

So don’t.

Happy Monday, Beloved

The Watchman One-a-Day Friday  9/2/22

A life worthy

For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish (Psalm 1:6).

We get these massive wildfires in my area. Our home is in no danger, but my family and I have watched from the window and seen the flames consume the hillsides near us.

I see a lot of chaff being burned up.

I also see a lot of homes threatened, at times even lost. Times like that always make me wonder about verses like this. It seems like God is saying that His people will be protected from the fire, but we know that is not always the case. That leads me into a brief round of “This is beautiful poetry, but we know that life’s not always like that so how can I trust any of Scripture maybe it’s all poetry and I can’t take any of it literally–”

I’m glad you never have those moments, Beloved.

Anyway, it’s at about this point in my mental panic that three things occur. First, I read a little more closely, and I see that the Psalm says that God “watches over” his people, not that he keeps them from all harm. He doesn’t promise that the fire will not come, only that He will be with you in the fire.

Just ask Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.

Second, I remember that God has a different set of priorities than Michael has. God is far less concerned with the stuff of my life, or even with my life itself, than he is with the eternal me. Me, he keeps safe. Me, is untouchable by the flames, be they physical or metaphorical. Me, is a life hidden with Christ in God.

Third, I realize that I had a similar meltdown just three verses ago, and I realize that I am indeed a pitiful wretch.

But I’m a pitiful wretch loved by God. I’ll take it.

Chaff One-a-Day Thursday  9/1/22

A life worthy

Not so the wicked!  They are like chaff that the wind blows away.  Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous (Psalm 1:4-5).

Sometimes I forget.

Sometimes I look at the non-believers around me, and I envy their “freedom.”

Sometimes, Beloved, I’m a little short-sighted.

I forget their destiny.  I forget that, without Christ, they are like chaff that the wind blows away.  Ever wonder why chaff blows away, while the wheat (that would be you) remains?  It’s because chaff has no substance, no weight.  There is nothing solid to it, nothing to keep it from drifting away on the breeze.

So it does.

What I sometimes confuse for freedom is the aimless drifting of an empty soul.

One day they, like we, will stand before the Father.  They will not be clothed in the righteousness of Christ—they will be naked in their sin.  They will not stand firm in the armor of God—they will be crushed under the weight of their own well-earned guilt.  They will not rejoice in the fellowship of the saints—they will be ever, forever alone.

Sometimes I forget.  But when I remember, I praise God for his grace, and I remind myself never to envy the lost, but ever to pity them, to pray for them, to reason and wrestle and reach for them.

Join me, Beloved.  And Happy Thursday.

Tree One-a-Day Wednesday  8/31/22

A life worthy

He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither.  Whatever he does prospers (Psalm 1:3).

OK, I really appreciate the tree image.  On a day like today, when I’m running crazy, the idea of solid, deep stillness is delicious.  On a day like today, when so little that I do seems to be of real value, the thought of being useful, of fulfilling my purpose, is profoundly satisfying.  On a day like today, when my body aches and the gray is spreading quickly through what’s left of my hair, the hope of not withering invigorates me.

But I gotta tell you, Beloved–I struggle with the rest of the verse.  I’m trying to be a Psalm 1 kinda guy, but I can’t honestly say that whatever I do prospers.  Looking around, it seems that very little of what I do prospers. Maybe I’m not Psalm 1ish enough.  Maybe I sit in the seat of mockers more often than I like to admit.  Maybe my meditation isn’t up to snuff.

Maybe.

Maybe I don’t have a good enough grip on what it means to “prosper.”  Maybe, just maybe, God is prospering me in ways I can’t see, can’t even imagine.

I like that “Maybe” better.

For all that I don’t know—which is plenty—there is one thing I do know.

I wanna be a tree.