Monthly Archives: March 2020

1 Corinthians 3 Devotion

1 Corinthians 3

It hit me as I finished reading this just how basic Paul’s approach was to correcting disunity. He confronts them. He speaks rather clearly about their current condition. He boasts in God. He warns them. He points them to things beyond this world!

As I began reading I thought to myself/I prayed that I would not be fleshly. This scares me because they didn’t see this in themselves nor would I see it in myself. We need each other….we need “Chloe’s people” seeing this and going to Paul about it.

We need then a Paul to confront us. Isn’t it uncommon to see this happen? Do we as believers not LONG FOR our brothers and sisters in Christ to help us see these fleshly things in our lives? Do we not want to be rid of them? If only there were some courageous and godly people in our lives to do what Paul does here.

As I think back to times when I grew the most it was a time when I was confronted on a regular basis by brothers who loved me enough to correct me. What’s happened in the church that we don’t want anyone telling us what to do?

I wonder how Paul would describe the church in our day? He seems pretty hard with his words about people in the church who are dealing with some jealousy and strife. If that were the only things to be addressed in our day!

I am nothing but all things belong to me and I belong to Christ and Christ belongs to God and that is enough!

I Corinthians 2 Devotion

1 Corinthians 2

The gospel was once foolishness to you. If you are believing in the gospel now it’s not because you figured it out. It’s not because someone explained it to you perfectly. You believe because the Holy Spirit opened your eyes!

Since the message of the cross is foolish to unbelievers and we want them to believe that doesn’t mean we need a “professional” or the pastor to share the gospel with them. There’s no need to think you are not a good enough speaker to share the gospel. Don’t think, “Well they’re never going to understand this with me telling them.”

Brilliant men and women CANNOT understand the gospel. The gospel must be told but that’s ALL we can do. We must pray and trust the Lord to do only what He can do!

So do not try any underhanded tactics like having them bow their head and close their eyes…raise their hand…repeat a prayer after you. When the Spirit awakens them to the wretchedness of their heart and beauty of the cross of Christ they know how to respond!

Please know the freedom and joy in sharing the foolishness of the cross with anyone because God is the One who saves!

And if you have believed, rejoice because a miracle has happened in you!

1 Corinthians 1 Devotion

1 Corinthians 1

The battle for unity within the church is always a battle. No one drifts into unity. It must be sought after and maintained. Never assume it’s automatic because it is a church or because people claim to be believers. Yet, there’s hope for unity because of those things.

Paul’s intro unites the church in Corinth with everyone who calls on the name of *our Lord and *their Lord (that’s some impressive writing)!

Paul begins his address by giving thanks for the grace that God had given them. That grace had made them rich, not monetarily, but in speech and all knowledge.

Paul affirms God’s work of grace in them and affirms their assurance because of this grace. Notice this: (the NASB is more accurate here) 1 Corinthians 1:6, 8 “even as the testimony concerning Christ was *confirmed in you…who will also *confirm you to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.” From the second you believe to your last breathe, you are his and will be confirmed TO THE END!

That doesn’t mean they never need correcting. Indeed, the warnings and corrections are the means by which the Lord sees to it that they are confirmed to the end! Evidence of grace never nullifies exhortation. In fact, it is the very reason and hope of correction.

Now a word about unity. Unity doesn’t mean uniformity. What I mean is this, we are all united in and in union with Jesus Christ through the gospel. However, we are all different. God has made the world to be diverse. Not every tree or animal or plant or human being is the same. God loves diversity and we should too. But God hates disunity.

Disunity in Corinth was uniting one’s self with one particular teacher that had helped teach them. We are all prone towards different groups within the church. It’s extremely rare that we can be best friends with everyone. I don’t think that’s necessary. But we are called to have the same mind and judgment when it comes to gospel of Christ!

These groups can come about by…well I have this study Bible or I listen to this podcast or I like this preacher or my theology is this or that. Do not rally around a preacher but around Jesus and gospel. I’m not dismissing theology. But what unites us is this: 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,

3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

4 There is one body and one Spirit-just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call-

5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism,

6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. – Ephesians 4:2-6

Be very eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit!

Acts 19 Devotion

Acts 19

I remember years ago this chapter solidifying for me that discipleship was the most essential means for the mission God had given his church that results in our purpose to glorify the Lord.

When I read 19:8-10 I was so upset and so eager that I was just a mess. I was upset as I pondered the lack of discipleship in the church but eager to see this change! I doubt that I could explain the extent of how simple discipleship in my life has resulted in much fruit for many others over the years.

If I could persuade you to be upset and eager to get serious about something it would be discipleship. Will this not convince you?

9 …he withdrew from them and took the disciples with him, reasoning daily in the hall of Tyrannus.

10 This continued for two years, so that all the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks. – Acts 19:9-10

Teaching/reasoning for two years resulted in all the residents of Asia hearing the word of the Lord. Please see this! Please, Lord, open our eyes that we might get this!

With tears, I write this! People are dying without Christ! How many in the recent days due to this virus have entered eternal death? I am convinced that discipleship is the means by which eternal life will spread through out the globe just like this virus!

They will burn their books and the coppersmiths will be out of business. I recall the day we ditched our music and movies that did not honor the Lord! We were free! We even got rid of weights…those things that weren’t necessarily sinful but hindered us from enduring the race!

Will you please consider getting alone with the Lord and asking him to show you what discipleship should look like in your life? We don’t have time to add disciples; we must multiply disciples. Please respond!

2 Thessalonians Devotion

2 Thessalonians 3

I suppose there’s always been and always will be people who underestimate and overestimate the evil one. If you need a good reason to pray, here’s one in verse one. Evil men and the evil one (Satan) is feverishly at work to stop the rapid spread of God’s Word and it being glorified!

What should you know before praying? The Lord is faithful. Because of that, he will strengthen and protect you and those you pray for. I, with Paul, am confident that you are doing this and will continue to do so. Verse 5 is one of those quick prayers that we should master: May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ. – 2 Thessalonians 3:5

I bet some of the rest of this chapter sounds odd to many. Maybe it’s helpful to ask this question, “Where were these perverse and evil men Paul speaks of in verse 2?” I think the clue is “not all have faith” and the instructions in the rest of this chapter.

I think this means they are from within the church. Brothers (professing believers) who live “unruly” will hinder the rapid spread of the gospel. Paul had given them clear examples of how both ministry and work should been done. So, those who are leading undisciplined lives should be ashamed. The way Paul commands this to happen is by withdrawing from them in hopes of restoration.

Sin within the body is a big deal. There are those who are members that do not have faith. There are those who are members that live unruly and need to be admonished. Why? For sake of God’s glory and the spread of the gospel!!!

I’ll leave you with this, if a brother or sister in Christ (specifically those you are in covenant membership with) are living unruly lives you must do something to show them their error. Your relationship cannot go on as “normal” and expect them to get it or be ashamed.

My prayer for you: Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all. – 2 Thessalonians 3:16

2 Thessalonians 2 Devotion

2 Thessalonians 2

I love Paul’s dual description: the coming of *our Lord Jesus Christ AND *our gathering to Him! We are a communal people. And someday we will commune together with God forever!

However, what if someone convinced you that the Lord had already come? What a reason to give up if Jesus has already come. But he hasn’t come yet!

A sign of maturity is knowing that you can be deceived. To be deceived means someone caused you to believe something that’s not true without you knowing what they did. The mature believer knows this can happen and is therefore very cautious with EVERYBODY that teaches the Bible.

Another sign of maturity is simply knowing what the Bible says in order not to be deceived. Of course, it’s usually not obvious. It’s often a mixture of error and truth which needs mature discernment.

Be the one praying for wisdom. Be the one to question the crowd about that which isn’t the truth. Be the one who knows which hills to die on and which ones that are not worth it.

All that needed to be said but let’s not end there. Notice how Paul addresses them, “beloved by the Lord!” What does it mean to be beloved by the Lord? You are beloved because you were chosen for salvation from the beginning.

Why? That you might “gain the glory of our Lord Jesus.” These are reasons…hopeful reasons to “stand firm and hold to” the truth.

My prayer for you is this: 16 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, 17 comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word. – 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17

Eternal comfort and good hope in Christ. Let that strengthen your hearts, beloved by the Lord!

2 Thessalonians 1 Devotion

2 Thessalonians 1

How does faith and love for one another become greatly enlarged? I would suggest that it’s possible the fruit of persecutions and afflictions had caused them to excel still more.

They are enduring together! They are finding ways (possibly being somewhat forced) to love each other in ways they had never thought of because of the suffering.

Not to mention, the next chapter will expose that someone had taught them wrongly and they were disturbed about the Lord’s coming. Being certain of the Lord’s future return is essential to living by faith in the present. It’s very freeing to know that eternal life awaits us.

What will spur you on to love and faith like this? Is there any motivation in this text? Absolutely there is!

-You will be considered worthy of the Kingdom of God for which you are suffering.

-The Lord will repay with affliction those who afflict you.

-And he will give relief to you when he comes.

-Jesus will be glorified in his saints and will be marveled at among all who believed.

We must keep our eyes on what is to come not what’s happening today. Let the beauty of Christ and his promised rewards compel you to greater faith and love still.

Now’s the time for this. Amid afflictions and panic may we be steadfast and sure.

My prayer for us: 11 To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, 12 so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. – 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12

I hope our response in these uncertain times will result in glory to Jesus! Look to him and point to him!

1 Thessalonians 5 Devotion

1 Thessalonians 5

Such providential timing for this passage! But the fact is fear can cause us to be overly concerned about the timing of the Day of the Lord. However, Paul says they already know what they need to know.

The fact is, that day will be a surprise to those not waiting for it. But that’s not so of believers. Though we do not know what day the Lord will come, faith anticipates and longs for it and therefore need not know when because we are patiently waiting for it everyday.

How do we wait patiently for it? How do we remain alert and sober minded in uncertain days? Sober ness has to do with a clear mind. How do you guard your mind? You put on the helmet of hope…in other words you think on the promises of God.

How you think, guards your heart (breastplate) by faith and love. Think on this: 9 For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him. – 1 Thessalonians 5:9-10

But we sometimes struggle to keep our mind set on Christ…especially when we are alone. Therefore, believers need to be together to be encouraged. Though many churches are pausing services, we must be eager to return.

But how can we be together to encourage until things return to normal…and we must do something. Write a letter. Call. Send a text. Set up a Skype or Zoom meeting (we really do not have any excuse with the technology we have).

No…it’s not the same. It’s not what we want. But we need encouragement to be light amid the darkness. The world will look for answers and we have the answer-the good news not the daily news. If you are discouraged you might not be ready to live as people that have hope.

My prayer for you is this: 23 Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

24 He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it. – 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24

1 Thessalonians 4 Devotion

1 Thessalonians 4

It’s amazing to see an example we need for this season of life we are in as a church. Paul was unable to visit (gather) with the believers in Thessalonica. Though for different reasons than our own, we see Paul using the means available to teach and encourage the saints.

By way of letter, Paul resounds the repeated phrase “that you excel still more” or “that you do so more and more.” So, by way of letter (from a distance) Paul instructs the church in ways that we need to hear today.

The word excel means exceed or abound. It’s doing more than you’ve been doing. It’s like if you work 40 hours a week, now let’s exceed that amount and work overtime.

What a time to be alive! What an opportunity to display the character and love of Christ to many in our neighborhoods that have no hope.

Whatever this virus is or turns out to be, I’m certain it is a test for the church. It’s time to act. It’s time to trust. It’s time to excel all the more in how we walk with God (please Him). Abstaining from that which does not display God’s character. And loving the beloved of the Lord and our neighbors still more.

We of all people ought to live like this because we have hope…hope in the resurrection to come! This should be very comforting to you in such uncertain times.

My prayer for you is this: God is able to make all grace *abound to you, *so that having all sufficiency in *all things at *all times, you may *abound in *every *good *work. – 2 Corinthians 9:8

Grace and peace, beloved! May God’s grace abound to you so that you can abound in loving your neighbors.

1 Thessalonians 3 Devotion

1 Thessalonians 3

More examples of discipleship. I saw a quote last week that has really been working on me. Discipleship is not a program. Programs are scheduled time to do particular things that may or may not aid in discipleship.

Discipleship is specific to each person and what they need in the moment of their walk with Jesus. Of course it can have structure and plans but it adjusts to what life throws at you. Most of all it requires intentionality.

Paul longed for news about the faith and love of those in Thessalonica. He finally sent Timothy to check on them, face to face. We must do the same. Paul could have sent a letter asking them to send a letter in response to hear about them. But he didn’t.

Ask a fellow brother or sister in Christ how their faith and love for Christ is. When they say “good” like most people, ask them what they mean by good. You don’t have to push like this every time you see them but be intentional to do so often. And when you do, keep pushing and asking questions until you get to the bottom. Don’t let them hide behind generalities.

11 Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you,

12 and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you,

13 so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints. – 1 Thessalonians 3:11-13