Discerning People

There is so much in the Bible instructing us not to judge others and at the same time there is much in the Bible instructing us on how to judge others righteously, even warning us that we need to be able to look to the fruit to understand who a person is. How could this be? We know the Bible does not contradict itself. I have come to believe that one of the worst attacks on the truth is the weakening of the language. For example, my understanding is that our word ‘judge’ is translated from 20 different original words. Imagine all the instructive contextual meaning that was lost in this mashup. It is then up to us to investigate the difference between attempting to judge the heart and motive of another and discriminating between the truth and a lie, or put another way, between life giving righteousness and sin that leads to death.

Today’s reading: 2 Samuel 10; 2 Corinthians 3; Ezekiel 17; Psalms 60–61

After this the king of the Ammonites died, and Hanun his son reigned in his place. And David said, “I will deal loyally with Hanun the son of Nahash, as his father dealt loyally with me.” So David sent by his servants to console him concerning his father. And David’s servants came into the land of the Ammonites. But the princes of the Ammonites said to Hanun their lord, “Do you think, because David has sent comforters to you, that he is honoring your father? Has not David sent his servants to you to search the city and to spy it out and to overthrow it?” So Hanun took David’s servants and shaved off half the beard of each and cut off their garments in the middle, at their hips, and sent them away. 2 Samuel 10:1-4

It is sad to read the rest of the account and how this terrible misjudgment lead to war. Here are a couple lessons I think we can learn from this reading:

  1. Be careful who you lend your ear to, from whom you take your advice. Instead of a righteous judgement in truth: perhaps considering the question, “is it a good thing that David sent comforters?”, the suspicious questions Hanun received from his advisors were aimed directly at David’s motives. And they missed by a mile.
  2. Do not judge motives. Jesus tells us in the Sermon on the Mount, “Judge not, that ye be not judged.” (Matthew 7:1) But again what is the difference in judging and discerning? The Bible warns us again and again that judging others come with heavy and dire consequences as does not discriminating. God please help us get this right.

If you are looking for answers to understanding the difference between sinful and righteous judgment, I recently listened to a sermon called Stop Criticizing that I would recommend. It was part of a series called Mishandled: Setting the Record Straight on Frequently Abused Bible Verses. It is on judging and worked from Jesus’s teaching on human relations from His Sermon on the Mount, while also taking a comprehensive look at the Scripture as it relates to this subject.

 

The Sweet Aroma of Christ

Today’s Date: September 13, 2016

The aroma of something can trigger memories or bring back thoughts in your mind that can alter a person’s emotions.  Certain candles, fresh laundry, perfumes, coffee, and cooked meals can take me back to a specific time and/or place wanting to go back to that moment.  What is one of your aromas that evokes a pleasant thought in your mind? When thinking of our five senses our smell is something that doesn’t require you to see the object or listen for a sound.  Simply being in its presence will allow you to make the connections.  So in 2 Corinthians 2:14-16 I reflect on “the aroma of Christ” Paul talks about and how our actions will give a “fragrance”  that can be pleasing or send a person running.

For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; 2 Corinthians 2:15

When referring to the “aroma of Christ” the truth is at times I can stink! No matter how many candles I burn, how much Febreaze is sprayed, cologne used, the smell comes through. Unless my thoughts, words and actions genuinely reflect Jesus this temporary aroma can turn out to be a foul fragrance that would clear a room.  When doing things my way or not showing genuine love this sweet perfume I should always have can repulse even myself.

So I ask as “the aroma of Christ” what perfumes do I carry? What perfumes do Christians carry when they enter a room? What words am I using to allow a natural fragrance of life in Christ attract those around me like a bee to a flower? 2 Corinthians 2:16-17 our perfume shared through the message of Christ and our action will cause a reaction in others to stick around or leave.  We attract others by His love and the love we have for Him.  Not only are our lives an impact aroma but our prayer life is as well. Revelation 8:3-4 allows our sweet-smelling prayers to be lifted to God. Ephesians 5: 1-2 says to be Imitators of God and walk in love. That Christ sacrificed himself so we could live out of love. Proverbs 27:9 says that the oil and perfume make the heart glad. So the sweetness to others is from our genuine counsel.

But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. 2 Corinthians 2:14

Dear Lord,  We know that our Christ like aroma can have an effect on others. We pray for our words and actions are from genuine love like you give us even though we don’t deserve it. We pray that through our sweet aroma of You we attract others who want to know and be around you more. We pray Lord that you shape our thoughts and actions to exemplify and give off a fragrance of being close to You.

aroma

Today’s Readings: 2 Samuel 8–9; 2 Corinthians 2; Ezekiel 16; Psalms 58–59

Covenant and Comfort

Today’s Readings: 2 Samuel 7, 2 Corinthians 1, Ezekiel 15, Psalms 56-57

Good morning Bible readers! I don’t often write without a plan or outline but today is different. There are so many good things in our daily scripture readings that I think I’ll just let God lead us through. For those that attend Eastview Christian Church, the message today was about being “all in.” Of course, as I sit down with my three different bibles this afternoon I’m sure it’s no coincidence that all of our readings today speak to being all in for God. For me this message is so important. I really need that reminder to be active in my faith. As our daily lives get busy, we tend to set God aside thinking that there will be a time and place for Him later. We all know that there is no later. Even in the last few days I’ve been asked by a few different people to commit just a bit more of myself to God. It’s a struggle but the answer has to be yes.

Today our reading begins in 2 Samuel. In chapter 7 we learn about the Lord’s covenant with David. We hear the prophet Nathan giving David this message from God,

“Go and tell my servant David, ‘Thus says the Lord: Would you build me a house to dwell in? I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent for my dwelling.” (2 Samuel 7:5-7)

Now, it’s hard for me as a newer Christian to really imagine God following the Israelites around in a tent. But what he is really saying to David is that the important thing to build is the church. Not a physical church, but a community of committed believers. What is important is that he and his people remain faithful. He goes on later this chapter to make some real promises, some very significant covenants. He promises David that he will appoint a place for the Israelites and plant them there. He says that they will be disturbed no more, that violent men shall afflict them no more, that he will give them rest. Nathan goes on to tell David that his throne shall be established forever in God’s steadfast love. Hello. Don’t you just feel like trading places with David today? Imagine the comfort and reassurance he felt in that moment. But we must remember how he got there. He got there by truly committing himself to God. By being all in. By saying yes Lord. Isn’t it exciting that this same covenant is actually available to us simply by saying yes Lord? But somehow we really feel like it’s not so simple. We’d rather have the new iPhone 7 than say yes Lord.

 That theme of idolatry takes us right into the next reading for today, 2 Corinthians 1. Now, we hear from Paul sharing the same message thousands of years later. Again, I just cannot believe that it’s coincidence that God teaching us the same lesson twice in our readings today. It just has to be important! Paul is writing a second letter to the church of Corinth. In the first letter he urges them to deal with moral issues regarding sex and marriage and conscience. But then, there were false teachers in Corinth. People that twisted Paul’s words and turned the Corinthian’s away from faith in Jesus. Paul has been slandered. Young believers were easy prey for false teachers. The NIV Study Bible describes the church at Corinth as weak, surrounded by idolatry and immorality. They struggled with their Christian faith and lifestyle.

Instead of responding in anger, Paul opens his letter with a message about God’s comfort.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.” (2 Corinthians 1:4-7)

Paul is reminding us that when God comforts us, it’s not that our problems go away. He wants us to turn to him out of love for him in times of joy and sadness. Instead, we understand that receiving comfort from Him means strength, encouragement and even hope for our future. The trials we endure now will bring us nearer to him and render us more able to comfort those around us facing the same trial. God is asking us to be all in today. He wants to be our one and only. I love hearing Him and seeing Him through is word. Hope you do too.

 

 

Having it All

My heart is in anguish within me; the terrors of death have fallen on me. Fear and trembling have beset me; horror has overwhelmed me. I said, “Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest. I would flee far away and stay in the desert; I would hurry to my place of shelter, far from the tempest and storm. ” -Psalm 55:4-8

Today’s reading: 2 Samuel 6; 1 Corinthians 16; Ezekiel 14; Psalm 55

The Bible always offered me something when I opened it. Sometimes it raised questions and other times it gave answers, but it always brought me closer to God. Problems often came from relying too much on me, and ignoring the tremendous importance of serving God and other people in my life.

For no one is cast off by the Lord forever, though he brings grief he will bring compassion, so great is his unfailing love. For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to anyone. – Lamentations 3:31-33.

These verses sounded too good to be true. And while I can’t say I completely understood them, they suggested sometimes we bring difficulties upon ourselves, especially when we turn away from God. But through it all, God’s love remains. Sometimes however, we experience separation from our most important relationships. I have often learned the hard way, but eventually came to see that it made more sense to seek God above my own understanding, regardless of the situation. Still, sometimes, I foolishly chose to turn away, often when I needed Him the most.

Of what value were my earthly goals over those of heaven? When I put my faith in my abilities, any victory I might enjoy would be to my glory and not God’s. Not surprisingly, this approach was typically the beginning of a vicious cycle. A cycle triggered by aspirations based on self reliance.

Obsessing over things, having too much urgency and too many variables was never good. These things were usually followed by my increasing loss of perspective. And when that was lost, so was my balance, causing my other responsibilities and relationships to become urgent; creating more problems. As the pressure mounted, a state of fight or flight began to kick-in.

With stress came the hormonal cascade of chemicals designed to save me, and they began to kill me. Cortisol flooded my body and my mind with fear and loathing. The heightened desire to escape in the elation or the comfort of dopamine created other opportunities for bad choices; then more stress. Before I knew it I was trapped in a nuerro-spiritual whirlpool, one that was easy to drown in. I wasn’t designed for this and no matter how hard I tied, or how capable and smart I thought I was, when I took the place of God as the lord of my life, everything got messed up.

The more I learned to rely on God; to take my time patiently waiting on God — the more things fell into place. By trusting God more, I learned to trust others more, and when I worked with teams made up of talented, honest people of high integrity, anything was possible. Ultimately the glory had to be God’s, and in that truth, everything started to work out.

The more I read the Bible the more evident it was that God wanted us to know Him. And in that knowledge, in that relationship, it was possible to discover the life we were made to live. A life of adventure, danger, mystery and truth; of challenges and peace, of sorrows and grace. God offered everyone amazing grace.

If the path we are called to in the Bible is true, and everything I have experienced says it is, then I believe we can have it all. When we ask for the faith to truly know God, then we are able to experience God’s grace. His mercy makes us whole, allowing us to receive the power of His Holy Spirit, and in that relationship we find the strength to surrender our will to His! God’s gift of salvation, in a sense, is really salvation from ourselves. This gift is offered to everyone through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ who came to our world as God in the flesh, to reconcile sin and offer you and me a righteous relationship with God and each other.

Thank you God that I can know you and that you know me. Amen.

A Man After God’s Own Heart

TBILISI GEORGIA - MAY 07: The statue of David the Builder in front of the Virgin Mary Metekhi church in Tbilisi Georgia on May 07 2016

Today’s reading: 2 Samuel 4–5; 1 Corinthians 15; Ezekiel 13; Psalms 52–54

My workgroup is preparing for a team building session next week. While I’m not generally a huge fan of team building exercises (because I’m afraid we’re going to have to hug, hold hands or do something else I don’t want to do), I have found value in the preparation work for this one.  The curriculum for our session next week is Strengths Finder 2.0, put out by the Gallup organization.  In preparation, each participant was asked to complete the Strengths Finder assessment then read the book.  Through a series of questions, the assessment tool is designed to identify each individual’s top five strengths.  Reading the book compliments the assessment by explaining what the strengths mean and how they often show up in daily life and work behaviors.

I went through the original Strengths Finder curriculum a number of years ago, but I didn’t keep the results when I changed employers. As a result, I needed to complete a “re-assessment”.  Even the second time around, seeing the key tenets of my personality summarized into five words was still a little shocking.  Though after reading more about the five strengths, then sharing them with my spouse, we smiled and concluded the assessment was probably pretty accurate.  Case in point – my top strength is Achiever.  The Achiever strength is best described as someone who must achieve a tangible result every day in order to feel good about themselves.  An Achiever’s internal fire continually pushes them to do more.  Even after accomplishing a big goal, celebration is short lived before an internal fire propels the Achiever to accomplish the next task.

Yep, this totally sounds like me. I love to make lists.  And, I celebrate a small victory every time I cross something off one of my lists.  Doesn’t matter if it is a to-do list, grocery list or packing list, I love them all.

As we’ve been reading 1st and 2nd Samuel over the past few weeks, I think Achiever would likely have been one of David’s top strengths five also.  The stories captured in these books show us he was a fierce warrior.  With God on his side, David conquered king after king, army after army and territory after territory.  David was also great poet and musician.  Whether it was winning battles or writing Psalms, David achieved much during his time on earth.  Our text in 2 Samuel chapter 5 today is clear that David knew the source of his achievement.  It was not an internal fire that propelled him to fight the next battle or write the next Psalm.  It was from God.

Then David knew that the Lord had established him as king over Israel and had exalted his kingdom for the sake of his people Israel (2 Samuel 5:12).

To remain great and continue to achieve, David knew he needed to keep a close relationship with God and keep his personal drive to achieve under control. God had to be first and serving as King over Israel had to be according to God’s plan.  Don’t get me wrong, we know David wasn’t perfect.  He was a sinner just like me and you (just wait, the story of David and Bathsheba is coming up in 2 Samuel 11 next Thursday).  Even so, in 1 Samuel 13:14, the Bible calls him a man after God’s own heart.

This is pretty humbling. I know all that I am and all that I have come from God.  But I have a long way to go to keep my personal drive under control and always give credit to God for my achievements.  Thank you God for Jesus.  Through his blood I am blameless and spotless in your sight.

Build Up!

What are the some of the ways to maintain a healthy relationship? To name a few:

  • Communication
  • Unselfishness/focus on the needs of others
  • Quality time together; enjoying each other’s company
  • Investment; acknowledging the relationship is an entity, and actively investing in the entity
  • Honesty

A friend recently made an observation regarding my relationship with my wife and he asked me what I believe are the contributing factors to the success our relationship. First, how great is it when someone we know asks such a question! I was instantly grateful for this friend to care enough to observe and ask. The question itself reminded me that people are always paying attention; analyzing the behaviors of others, and curious about relationships for many reasons.

My response to the question was similar to the list above, but when I shared this story with my wife, she immediately added “we compliment each other”. She was referring to giving compliments of encouraging words (as Merriam-Webster defines compliments):

  • a remark that says something good about someone or something
  • an action that expresses admiration or approval

Amy’s response was a reminder to me as to her own appreciation for compliments and certainly caused me to wonder the last time I complimented her on something. Compliments when given with pure intentions (or if you’re a Five Love Languages fan, “words of encouragement”) are outward acts reflecting our inward heart. They symbolize the focus on others and typically measure the depth of the relationship (for example, complimenting someone’s smile as opposed to identifying one of their personal strengths and sharing how you see them using that strength in an effective way).

In 1 Corinthians 14, Paul focuses on the theme of using spiritual gifts for building up others instead of ourselves. What a gift this chapter was for me to read today having just had the conversation last night with Amy regarding building each other up. God moves in mysterious ways, we just need to pay attention!

2 Samuel 3; 1 Corinthians 14; Ezekiel 12; Psalm 51

On the other hand, the one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation.

Now I want you all to speak in tongues, but even more to prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be built up.

26 What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up. (1 Corinthians 14:3, 5, 26)

Father God, thank you for placing people in my life who have encouraged me in love and faith. Specifically in the last 36 hours, I’m completely humbled, honored, and in awe to reflect on so many names of people who have built me up! Amy, Robbie, Rick, Jared, Preston, Peyton, Pamela. May I continue to see these acts of love as gifts from you God. Show me where I am selfish in relationships and where my focus needs to turn toward others, that I love unconditionally so that you may be glorified. I cannot thank you enough for the love you have for us which is reflected in the death, burial, and resurrection of your son Jesus to save us from our sins. May this day glorify you. Amen.

The Way of Love

Happy loving family. Father and his daughter child girl playing and hugging outdoors. Cute little girl and daddy. Concept of Father's day.
2 Samuel 2; 1 Corinthians 13; Ezekiel 11; Psalm 50

Living in America, we are presented with endless opportunities. From birth, we are taught that we can be anything we want to be and that we can do anything we set our minds on. I believe this. In fact, it fuels my desire, causing me to seek greater knowledge, wisdom, and skills so that I can attain them. It’s a good thing. In fact, I want my kids to recognize that they have the same opportunities. I, like you, tell them that they can be President.  I encourage them to reach high, to develop knowledge, wisdom, and skills.   As I teach them, I hope that they will do well. Today, however, 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 forced me to evaluate how I am conditioning them.

I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging symbol. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)

 Do you see it? When I read those three verses, I cannot help but look evaluate how I am developing my kids. My determination is that I am very good at teaching them about worldly things like acquiring knowledge and Godly things like having faith.   They are on my short list.   Unfortunately, according to Paul, these things alone are worthless and nothing. One thing is needed to make it all worthwhile; love. This begs the question, how am I teaching my kids to love? That question strikes terror in my heart. The truth is that my kids, like your kids, learn love the way that we love them. Additionally, they are learning how to love their future spouses by the way that we love ours.  Why does it strike terror in my heart?  I am very aware of my shortcomings both as a father and a husband.  Seriously, both are far from God’s design. Thankfully, this is not the end of the story!

This is the beginning of the story.  When I recognize that my love falls short of what God created it to be, I need to look no further than Jesus.  His perfect love and his perfect sacrifice fill the gap.  My acceptance of His perfection establishes and strengthens my bond of love with Jesus.  His love, now in me, enables me to grow in love as both a husband and a father.  The love of Jesus is not just for me.  It is for you too.

 

Discerning Faith

Today’s reading: 2 Samuel 1; 1 Corinthians 12; Ezekiel 10; Psalm 49

September 7th, 2016

1st Corinthians Chapter 12 is so rich with practical wisdom for living. Individualism and teamwork. Pride and humility. Comparison, jealousy and envy; beauty, goodness, and joy. It is all there. The one that stands out the most to me is the idea of ownership as it applies to pride and humility. I wrote about this back in April (You are [not] awesome). Instead of considering that again, I would like to draw on yesterday’s post, Examine Thyself, which I believe can help us not only learn from today’s scripture, and any truth, but put the truth to use.

Yesterday we read of the gravity of our call to examine ourselves when we eat and drink the LORD’s Supper (1Corinthians 11:26-29). Consider with me today this thought and if you find it true, let us venture examine our hearts. Here is the thought: knowing the truth and believing the truth are different.

Too often, in my past, I have confused knowing the right answer in truth with having a heart that is right in truth. For example, when posed with the question “should you be prideful or humble?”, most Christians would spring to the right answer understanding the truth is “humility is profitable and pride is not.” However, if the truth is not truly believed is it then impotent? Put another way, How does knowing the right answer differ from living the right answer? If indeed there is a difference, If one were to know the right answer but not live it, what is missing? Could it be a true belief?

If belief is a matter of heart and we know that hearts are not so easily discerned (Jeremiah 17:9) and more that our hearts are deceptive to the point where they can even deceive us (Proverbs 21:2), how then can we discern our heart? How can we examine ourselves?

I was shown an exercise I’ll share it with you here. It is a simple question, that, if seriously considered, may help us discern our faith and test our hearts. It can be adjusted to suit most any situation where discernment of faith in the truth is needed. Here is the question:

What would I be doing right now if ___________?

The blank can equal a prayer answered, worry eradicated, or truth applied. The idea is to imagine a reality where the blank was already filled in, in truth, and measure your actions, choices, demeanor, and/or attitude prior to asking this question against what those things would be like if ______ were so.  

Stick with me here just a bit longer. Let us take in an example. One of the most fundamental in nature and possibly one of the most challenging to follow because it is so unusual to imagine not maintaining your own faculties. Let us attempt to discern our pride, a matter of ownership (1 corinthians 6:19-20). For this, the question then could be: What would I be doing right now if I did not own myself? If you were, say, on loan to yourself from Christ but for a season. Try applying this to a decision you might make in an upcoming meeting or what your first thought might be when you wake up in the morning.

One more example. Let us say there was a leper in a time when being a leper meant they were an outcast to society. In a place where, if for whatever reason they were healed, to rejoin society they would need to follow a protocol to let the proper authorities examine them and give them a clean bill of health that they could then carry back for admittance into the community.  Let us say this leper begged mercy from someone they believed to be able to heal them. The question then becomes: What would the leper be doing right now if they were healed? (Reference: Luke 17:11-19)

This exercise is all to help each of us arrive at the answer to one simple and basic question that at the same time is most critical to everything we think, say and do: do we really believe? (James 1:6-8, Hebrews 3:12) May we examine ourselves and keep our hearts with all diligence (Proverbs 4:23). May we think on our ways and turn our feet to His testimonies (Psalms 119:59).

 

Extra Credit.

Examine yourself and test your heart with this question in two ways:

  1. construct the question with a supplication you are making to our LORD as if it were already answered.
  2. construct the question with a one of these basic truths you may be taking your heart’s position for granted on; God is perfect and holy, God demands holiness, Hell and Heaven are real, on our own we are hell-bound sinners incapable of holiness incapable of earning a right relationship with God, Jesus bought us and paid our way into Heaven and that right relationship with God, there is nothing we can do to repay Him, even our best performances are but filthy rags to Him, our greatest privilege is to serve Him.

Examine thyself

September 6, 2016

The last few weeks at church we have been reading in John and discussing the many many events that happened hours before the death of Jesus.  Using figures of speech and talking plainly Jesus spoke so we can read today and have hope, faith, love for Him, ourselves, and others John 16:25. In these hours before a betrayal Jesus sat down with his disciples first showing how we should serve others John 13:16 , take heart in tribulations, be not of the world, and that God loves us with the same depth as His only son John 17:26.

Today’s Readings: 1 Samuel 31; 1 Corinthians 11; Ezekiel 9; Psalm 48

In the second half of 1 Corinthians 11:17-34 we read about the Lord’s Supper. This is a part that Christians have read and listened to every time we take communion. Starting at 1 Corinthians 11:24, Paul writes how the bread and the cup represents the body and blood is taken in the remembrance of Jesus. Verse 1 Corinthians 11:26 is that reminder to us that we proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

In 1 Corinthians 11:28 Paul talks about us examining ourselves. Yesterday, as Brandon Grant read and preached from John 17:20-26 he talked about  The Oneness that Wins the World .This Oneness challenged me to be reflective in my desires and the oneness I have with others.  I felt this examination run through my mind and in my heart. As I reflected on my prayers, engagement in others, and the sacrifices that I should make for God and His kingdom. These thoughts continued through the night as I read through this part of 1 Corinthians 11:28 into now.  I asked myself how many times I have had the Lord’s Supper and not examined myself.  Remembering that it is the Lord who truly knows our hearts and will judge us. In our time of communion, eating the bread and drinking the cup shows that we are remembering Christ’s death for us and renewing our commitment to serve Him.  In this time of communion,  instead of thinking of what plans I have that will follow that service I need to be thinking about what Jesus did and Why He did it! Taking the Lord’s Supper should be a time when I can examine myself for any unconfessed sin or resentful attitudes. What barriers am I hiding that affect my relationship with Him and with other believers. 

examine2

 

Dear Lord, by Your grace do we get to be part of this special time where we can take this sacrament given by Christ to help strengthen our faith.  Jesus, thank you for this time where we are at oneness with each other and completely focused on You. Thank you for the reminder that the Lord’s Supper is not to be taken lightly and this new covenant came at the cost of Your life. Amen

We Are One Body

Today’s Readings: 1 Samuel 29-30, 1 Corinthians 10, Ezekiel 8, Psalm 46-47

When I read through today’s scripture passages 1 Corinthians 10 really resonated with me. As soon as I read this passage:

“The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of one bread.” (1 Corinthians 16-17)

I always get really excited when I’m reading my Bible and I start to hear a song. As children we learn about Jesus first through those classic beloved Bible songs. Growing up in the church and singing on Sundays, those songs multiply and become sort of a personal passageway to Christ. When I read this scripture yesterday, I heard a really old tune I learned for a non-denominational prayer service in 1993 called “We are One Body.” The chorus goes like this:

We are one body, one body in Christ

And we do not stand alone

We are one body, one body in Christ

And he came that we might have life

These simple words came alive for me today when I read them on the printed page of my Bible. Paul is really calling our attention to the importance of corporate worship in 1 Corinthians 10. Yes, chapter 10 is really about idolatry and is more or less a cautionary tale for the Corinthian believer who thought himself strong enough to participate in pagan rituals without compromising his relationship with God. Paul is calling us to recognize our impending accountability on the last judgment day. As Christians we represent one unified body that is dependent upon the death of Christ.

“Because we are one bread, we who are many are one body.”

(1 Corinthians 10:17 HSCB)

 As individual members we make up one corporate body. Together we are united through Christ’s death but individually we all have union with Christ. In other words we all belong. There are no exclusions. Although the message of idolatry or “other Gods” is so very important, today I’m really moved to share the message that He is with us. He wants us to take these individual risks to get to know Him better and therefore be a more active member of the corporate group. I’ll share with you, my Bible Journal friends that I took a big old leap of faith just this morning. For years God has nudged me, needled me and then literally pushed me into joining vocal team at ECC. I’ve always resisted. I have lots of music training and lots of experience singing in church. For some reason there was a roadblock for me when it came to auditioning at Eastview. I never felt that I was worthy of that kind of singing for Christ. I never felt like I belonged in that space. I told God that when all the stars were aligned; when all my little conditions were met I would audition for the team. I knew they never would…until they did. Then I told Him that I’d really show Him, that I’d audition and make of fool of myself and I’d prove to Him just how unworthy I am. I was so not going to do it. And then Matt Ludwig called. And I heard myself say, “yes.” Not so much, “yes Matt” but “yes Lord.” This morning, for the very first time I got to stand face to face with a crowd of Christians and see them raise their voices, their arms and their hearts to the Lord. I understood then that this opportunity isn’t about standing on a stage, it isn’t about being on stage. It’s a closeness I’ve never felt before. When we all stand, and we all sing together we are truly one body. Together, we can worship him more deeply. Together we can draw Him closer and see him more clearly.