Saturday, November 2, 2013

40 Days of Gifts Day 21

Scripture: Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Romans 12:9

Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Ephesians 4:25

Observation: There is evil in the church. The greatest evil is when we try to counter the evil of the world with the world's methods. Spiritual gifts free us to work against evil in God's power and method. We build one another through truth because when one of us buys the lie of evil then we are all part of the lie. Love is the motive for gifts not proving ourselves or our brand of Christianity. Love must be truthful and confront evil. The motive must be restoration though not proving our correctness.

Application: Most divisions in the church would be stopped before they were noticed if every believer valued the unity of love in the body of believers more than a false sense of unity based more on the world's pattern than Christ's. To love someone is to confront lovingly. We are all prone to mixing some evil in our faith practice. As a body there is no shame in it. The only shame is when the body does not confront. It is a lot like a virus in our physical bodies. If our immune system fails to confront the virus early, it will grow and divide. Ultimately it will create sickness in the entire body. Jesus is the truth, and His followers must seek the goodness of His truth.

Prayer: Help me encourage someone to be healthy today. Help me present the hope of life change as I confront the sickness present in all of us. Help me also accept someone else's words of truth as they confront the evil still lingering in me. Together we will eliminate the sickness and be a healthy body where we are members of one another. Help us to value looking like You more than feelings. 

Friday, November 1, 2013

40 Days of Gifts Day 20

Scripture: Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Romans 12-10-15

Observation: The "best" gifts are the most needed gifts at the moment. When we see rejoicing we should seek to join the party. When we see sorrow, we should seek to share the sorrow. We should encourage patient endurance. We should contribute to one another and share hospitality. When opposed, we should seek to bless our opposers. Why? We are all part of one body. If my finger hurts, I don't rejoice and look down on it. When part of me hurts, I hurt. When part of me is happy, all of me gets happy. If part of me does wrong, all of me does wrong. My left hand can't laugh at the misfortune of my right hand.

Application: Often we follow the world's pattern of insecure comparison and self-promotion. The church, however, is not the world; it is the Kingdom manifested on Earth. We live by a different standard. All of us are saved by the same Lord and empowered by the same Spirit. If gifts are the Spirit operating in us as He chooses, why would we compare our acts of service to another's. We are who He says we are, and we as a church are free to be who He made us to be only when we quit the insecure worldly pattern of comparison.

Prayer: Help me today to be OK with who you made me to be. Help me be OK with how You want to work in my life today. Help me live to please You alone and get my identity from You so I am free to be a part of the wonderful gift of the church. When I know who I am in You I am free to weep with those who weep and celebrate with those who celebrate. I can contribute rather than take!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

40 Days of Gifts Day 19

Scripture: Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. Ephesians 4:16-17

Observation: The call of every Christian is to build up and equip other believers. When we work to build others, they work to build us, and we are all built up. When each part is working properly then we are all blessed. 

Application: Many attend the church of their choice and base the choice on what the church has for them. It makes sense if the goal is to be the strongest person you can be. the problem is personal strength is not the goal of Christianity (if it were Jesus would just snatch you up to Heaven). the goal is to build other believers. Personal strength and corporate strength are the same thing. There is only a difference when you see yourself as separated from the body of believers in the church. You are the church. When you grow we all grow! You grow so you can help others grow. 

Prayer: Lord help me see myself as part of the church. I am included, and as a believer cannot be separated from the church. Help me see the problems in my church and see how I am part of the solution. The problems are not "their" problems; they are "our" problems. Help me grow today so my church will grow!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

40 Days of Gifts Day 18

Scripture: All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines. 1 Corinthians 12:11

But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. Ephesians 4:7

Observation: Every believer is capable of allowing God to use them through spiritual gifts to glorify Him and bless other believers. The lists of gifts can seem to rank the gifts, but the lists are not about specific gifts being more important than others. The lists illustrate that there are different functions but the same Spirit. We tend to think "our" gift is more important than others. Paul's lists illustrate that all gifts are the same God working through people in different functions. 

Application: Rather than focusing on specific gifts and the user of the gift, we would all be able to bless others and see God at work among us if we would focus on sensitivity to how the Holy Spirit uses various individuals. We should look for the Spirit at work in various functions through gifts and encourage the person to allow the Spirit to work in them. We should thank God that there are different functions. 

Prayer: Lord help me to see You at work in others today. Help me encourage them even if they are functioning differently than me. I am part of a body called the church, and we do not all have to be the same function as long as it is the same Spirit that empowers us. Help me see You in someone else today and encourage more of You in them!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

40 Days of Gifts Day 17

Scripture: Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Ephesians 4:2

Observation: Paul doesn't tell us to do something here. He tells us to be something. We aren't to do humble things or gentle things. We don't do things with patience. These are things we are, and doing follows being. We can do lots of things that look good or make us feel good about ourselves, but doing something that lasts comes from what we are. If we are humble we will do humble things. If we are gentle we will do gentle things. If we are loving we will love.

Application: Spiritual gifts make a lot more sense when you realize God is far more interested in your "being" than your "doing." We worry about what we can do for Jesus when God is worried about what we are becoming. The doing will take care of itself if you are what God made you to be. Worship and fellowship are about being. Teaching, proclamation, and service are about doing. When you connect with Jesus and connect with other believers in truth and authenticity the growth and actions will follow. You are not a Christian doing things; you are a Christian becoming like Jesus and the doing naturally overflows. We meet together and then we go out and serve our world. 

Prayer: Lord help me to "be" today. Help me to worry less about what I am doing and more about what I am becoming. Let me connect with You today so I can be more like You. Help me connect with other believers today so I can see You at work in them. Help me to "be" so I will naturally "do." 

Monday, October 28, 2013

40 Days of Gifts Day 16

Scripture: That we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ. Ephesians 4: 14-15

Observation: Spiritual gifts are when God works in me to reveal His glory and to bless others. They build up the church so that we are strong together. Paul is addressing the tendency of people to use the church to bless themselves. They use natural abilities to promote themselves and draw weaker beliers away. You can tell those using natural ability because they are always changing like something floating on the sea. They are tossed back and forth be "new" doctrine and human motivations and schemes. Paul is addressing unity in the Spirit. What unifies the people of God is when we come together so He can be seen working in us and so we can bless each other. Gifts build while human effort divides.

Application: To the mature believer everything they do is done as a spiritual gift. The immature believer needs to recognize when they are doing it in their own effort or from a selfish motivation. Once a believer has learned complete submission to Christ they realize that all they do is under His Lordship. Even my "natural" abilities come from Him and they are submitted to Him. Once mature, everything the believer does is about revealing God and blessing the church. Even our "secular" jobs become places where we make money to bless the church. Our homes become places of preparing our families for blessing others. Our rest even becomes preparation for serving. (Rest is a blessing from God-- a gift to prepare us to serve His people.) Everything You have comes from God-- how you use it determines if it is a spiritual "gift" or a human failing. 

Prayer: Lord help me submit to You and to your people (the church) today. Help me make everything I do today a gift from You. Use my hands, mouth, feet, etc. to glorify You today and to bless someone.

40 Days of Gifts Day 15

Scripture: Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Observation: All spiritual gifts are based on love. The love, however, is God's love working through me not my love. Gift usage gets backwards when I expect God to empower my expressions or ideals of love. Most of the time my idea of love is way below God's idea. Jesus is the standard of love, and I don't even come close. Allowing God to use me to bless someone is about His love coming through me. It is about His love being revealed in me. All too often our expressions of love are about glorifying self serving ourselves. We do something then want everyone to see the great thing we did. We are serving our sin nature not God.

Application: I need wisdom and discernment in my gift usage. I must stop asking God to empower my weak idea of love and allow Him to work in me how He wants to work in me. I can only learn about true love as I put my self-promotion and selfish ideals aside and allow pure love to come through me. Maybe this is what Jesus meant about taking up my cross daily. 

Prayer: Lord help me to learn to love by allowing You to love through me today. Wake me up whenever I try to get you to empower my ego-driven efforts. Help me be a humble servant in which the Master can be seen working. Let my actions today reveal Your love to someone!

(Repost from 10/27/13)