Friday, May 30, 2008

Comfort & Consolation

2 Corinthians 1:3-6
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5 For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ. 6 Now if we are afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effective for enduring the same sufferings which we also suffer. Or if we are comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation."

Could it be more clear? The answer to life's big "Why?" question is comfort and consolation. We are united in Christ's suffering so that we may join the God of all comfort and the Father of all mercies in comforting others for their consolation and salvation (vs6). In this case, trials and tears are the lenses through which we more clearly see the afflictions of others. The consolation of Christ carries us to act on what we then see. For me, mercy and comfort were at best blurry and foreign until I suffered the loss of my father-in-law and the my father. (It has been two years this weekend since we said goodbye to Jeff.) Now my heart is more tender, my eyes more sharp to the hurt of others and my ministry of mercy stronger. The blessing of trials is so much greater than the weight of the suffering - to be used by God in the ministry of comfort for the consolation and salvation of others.

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 tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. Use me Father for the consolation and salvation of someone today. Amen

Thank you Jeff

Thank you dad

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Provision and Sabbath

Leviticus 25:5-7
"What grows of its own accord of your harvest you shall not reap, nor gather the grapes of your untended vine, for it is a year of rest for the land. 6 And the sabbath produce of the land shall be food for you: for you, your male and female servants, your hired man, and the stranger who dwells with you, 7 for your livestock and the beasts that are in your land—all its produce shall be for food."

When we honor God first with our time and priorities through the Sabbath, we can be confident that He will honor and care for us. This we know and believe. However the most amazing part of God's provision here according to this verse is that He blesses us enough to even care for others!... and especially the stranger! God's priority for the poor, the stranger and the lost do not diminish even when His resources seem to. Like Joseph's seven year harvest of plenty - God still provides enough to share with others (even his crummy rotten brothers!). And if we are diligent and wise with the abundance in year 6, we can stretch God's blessings into year 7 and 8 and the lives of many others (Lev. 25:20-22). When my resources seem to be low or when I chose to honor God's Sabbath rest - His priorities don't change and neither should mine. I am blessed with much... and little, to be a blessing.

God, help me be generous and trustworthy with all I have. Teach me to rest and trust in You to continue blessing in and through me. Amen.

Margin: Corners of my life

(from May 28... late blog due to pancakes for Elijah's birthday!)

Leviticus 19:9-10
‘When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not wholly reap the corners of your field, nor shall you gather the gleanings of your harvest. And you shall not glean your vineyard, nor shall you gather every grape of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the stranger: I am the LORD your God. "
[Leviticus 23:22 also]

God has blessed me to be a blessing and He has a special place in His heart for the poor and the lost. My fields, my harvest, my treasures, my time must have margin to be used to care for the poor and to reach out to the outsider.
If I spend all my time and money on me, I leave nothing left for God to use. I need to discipline myself; my calendar, schedule, budget and priorities to leave room for God's spontaneous work through me. Living without margin does not honor God nor help others see and receive Him.

You are the Lord my God - All that I have is Yours. Teach me to spend wisely, to discipline my schedule and budget to honor You and bless others. Make me faithful with what You have already given so I may be an even greater blessing. Amen.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Life-giving Blood

Leviticus 17:11
"For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.’"

Day after day, hour by hour - each sacrifice clearly displayed and prophesied of the Great and Perfect Atonement that was to come. Each sacred drop spilled at the Temple upon the altar was to penetrate the hearts and minds of the people, reminding them of the price and severity of sin. Like all ritual, I'm sure that the imagery grew dull and common. And like all imagery, it fell so short of communicating what it was meant to proclaim. If only they knew how great was the sacrifice to come, how perfect and truly life-giving was the blood to one day be shed. And while I know this... I am a bit envious of Israel. I envy the constant reminder that thrust it's way into every activity of life. I need a more constant reminder of what Christ has done for me on the cross. It doesn't seem adequate for me to take communion once a month. I need a more constant reminder of the atonement make for me through the blood of Jesus. I need to be reminded daily of the life-giving gift shed for me at the cross.

Jesus, penetrate my heart with the reality of Your sacrifice. Remind me of Your blood, shed for me. Make me more alive each day through the powerful reminder of the cross and the atonement made for me. Amen.

Monday, May 26, 2008


Leviticus 10:3
And Moses said to Aaron, “This is what the LORD spoke, saying:

‘By those who come near Me
I must be regarded as holy;
And before all the people
I must be glorified.’” So Aaron held his peace.

There is no place for sloppy, careless or lazy worship before God. We cannot approach His throne with the same casual, familiar style that we use with other sinful people. There is no room for ambiguity at the altar of God - we are either humble, reverent and holy or we are arrogant, rebellious and... well... dead; like Nadab and Abihu. A careless offering will not be tolerated. And the reality is that careless worship does not happen by accident - it is the result of a skewed view of God - not regarding Him as Holy. If my ministry is dead, if my students are not growing, it is because I have forgotten that God is Holy and must be glorified and lifted up before all the people as such. I believe this is why God prescribed such an elaborate preparation ritual for Aaron and his sons. Nothing short of the blood of Christ made them holy - but everything up to that point reoriented their minds, hearts and conduct toward holiness.
So what do I do to prepare for worship? How do I approach leading the people to God's glory. I must approach my ministry in a drastically different way.
I must not focus on the work, or the ritual or the people or the content. I must focus on God and set Him apart as Holy and distinct from all that I prepare to do. I must be so focused on His face and person that what follows is the Spirit of God rather than His wrath or judgment or absence. I must first be found Holy before my worship or ministry is to be found Holy.

God, I confess that I do not approach Your throne or worship with holiness in mind. I am arrogant, rebellious, mindless and sloppy toward You. I have treated Your gracious invitation to lead Your people in worship as common and ordinary. Forgive me. Convict my heart and cause me to see Your holiness. Purify my motives, my focus and my conduct so that I am Holy and so that You may be glorified in all that I do. Be lifted up before my students. Humble me and be glorified as Holy - set apart, above and beyond all good things we may do in worship. Amen.

Friday, May 23, 2008

A Sweet Aroma

Leviticus 1:9b
"And the priest shall burn all on the altar as a burnt sacrifice, an offering made by fire, a sweet aroma to the LORD."

Sixteen times in the book of Leviticus (9 times in the first 4 chapters) does God describe the burnt offering of bulls, sheep, goats, doves or grain as a "sweet aroma."
Personally, I've never considered burning flesh, skin, hair and the like to be sweet or even pleasant. Some have even suggested that the altar of incense was there in the Temple to cover over the smell of burning flesh as a reminder to the people that God was covering over the stink of their sin. So what made burning flesh such a sweet aroma to God?
I believe it was the fact that the sacrifice was fully consumed by the fire. There was nothing left when the ritual was over. These animals were a picture of Christ who fully gave Himself for us - a sweet smelling aroma to God (Eph. 5:2) And we are to walk daily as this burnt offering - fully consumed in mind, heart and action - in love in all we do. When we set our agendas and pride aside (take up our cross) and follow Him, our sin is covered over and God is pleased.

Holy God, consume my life, my thoughts, my words and actions and may my life be a sweet smelling sacrifice to You. Amen

"And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma."
Ephesians 5:2

Thursday, May 22, 2008


1 Corinthians 16:13-14
"Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. Let all that you do be done with love."

Watch... with love. Endure... with love. Be brave... with love. Be strong... with love. Love compels us to be compassionate and aware of others needs and situations. Love gives us the ability to endure hardship, hurt and disappointments. Love gives us the courage to judge rightly and stand on the counter-cultural principles of God for the sake of our brothers and sisters in Christ. Love makes our strength complete and effective. If I were to evaluate my compassion, endurance, courage and strength would I find love or simply one who is arrogant, wavering, brash and manipulative... these are the alternatives. Love is the key ingredient that makes my conduct palatable to both God and others. I must ask myself daily, "Have all my works and actions been done with love?" Early in my day I must look at my agenda and ask, "How can I approach each task, person and appointment with love?"

For my own sake, for the sake of others, for Christ's sake and His kingdom, Lord - let all that I do be done with love. Amen.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Victory in Obedience

1 Corinthians 15:55-58
"Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?"
56The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.
57But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
58Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

Sin brings with it the stink of death - not only eternal, spiritual death, but also a daily poisoning of our conscience, spirit and mind. However in Christ we have been given victory over sin and death. This victory does not come without a battle or a fight - it is not a free pass out from under the strength of the Law. Instead, victory comes when by the grace of God through the gift of Christ crucified and risen, we have strength to obey the law. We are made alive daily through steadfast obedience to Christ. Our labor is not about a life to come (salvation) but about overcoming today in this life (regeneration/sanctification). I have been given abundant life today because Christ died my death, took my sting and granted me the strength to obey the law. Praise be to God.

Father, make me steadfast, obedient, immovable and confident in Your work in and through me. Amen.

Psalm 145:9
"The Lord is good to all: and His tender mercies are over all His works."

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Maturity & Knowledge

1 Corinthians 14:20
"Brethren, do not be children in understanding; however, in malice be babes, but in understanding be mature."

Understanding is an interesting thing. Knowledge as Paul wrote in 1 Cor. 8:1 "puffs up." When we think we know something we are more prone to take a stand and become contentious. We can become divisive and even malicious. But true and complete understanding is founded in love. "Love builds up." Building up the body of Christ is what all spiritual gifts and knowledge are about. If my knowledge leads to division, I would be better off as a child. Children know and understand very little but extend love to everyone without prejudice. It's interesting that as I look at y life I find my pursuits to be knowledge and not love. This has only served to make me immature regarding love and true spirituality... and mature in division. Instead, my pursuit should be love for the building up and edification of the body of Christ and those around me.

Father, guide me in love and give me a childlike innocence that builds up your Body and those around me. Amen.

Monday, May 19, 2008


1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Love suffers long... I am easily frustrated.
and is kind... I'm blunt, harsh and critical.
love does not envy... I deserve so much more.
love does not parade itself, is not puffed up... I need to be recognized.
does not behave rudely... I am arrogant and aloof.
does not seek its own... I demand what is due to me.
is not provoked... I can hardly avoid a good argument.
thinks no evil... I dwell on my struggles and let my mind rot.
does not rejoice in iniquity... unless is serves me well.
but rejoices in the truth... only when it serves me well.
bears all things... I lack mercy and grace.
believes all things... I lack sympathy and understanding.
hopes all things... I worry and let anxiety overcome me.
endures all things... I demand instant attention, satisfaction and change.

Love has a lot of "nots." To whittle love down to one simple phrase; "Love is NOT about me." So often though this is my starting point and getting the focus off me is so difficult. I get stuck on entitlement, what is "fair" and what I call "principles" that have no part in 1 Corinthians 13 or any definition of love.
So what would my life look like if I started out with others in mind? What if my path of thought was about what my wife, my family, friends, coworkers and acquaintances deserved? What a different person I would be!

... deserves space and grace.
... could always use a word of encouragement.
... has needs and desires that I can meet.
... deserves to be recognized and appreciated.
... could use some time and tenderness.
... needs a hand today.
... needs me to let things go quickly.
... deserves a clear and open-minded friend and the benefit of the doubt.
... needs a friend with a pure heart.
... needs the blessing Truth celebrated today.
... has a lot to bear and is entitled to my help.
... deserves sympathy and understanding.
... is in God's hands and He can be trusted.
... deserves a constant and consistent friendship born out of Love.

God, help me focus on others. Keep my eyes and mind off of me!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Care for the Body

1 Corinthians 12:25
"there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another."

I confess that I am guilty of creating schisms rather than caring for certain brothers and sisters in the body. When I find someone who id difficult, who I don't gel with or who I disagree with on even good things like ministry - I create gaps between us and distance myself from them. When it becomes difficult, I just walk away and do things on my own. I confess that this is wrong. I would never say that the other person is not necessary in the body or in my life... but my actions would betray me.
Instead of (and far from) walking away and creating division, I need to embrace and care for those members. I need to rightly recognize the honor God has given them. I need to learn how our unique gifts, personalities, passions, priorities, etc... interact and compliment the body. I must find our areas of compatibility. And where we are different, I must exercise care and compassion, granting the honor due to them. And I must be constant and diligent in doing this.

Lord - help me to get over myself. Make me a more humble, aware and caring part of Your body. Help me celebrate the variety and compatibility in Your awesome design of the church. Amen.

Self Examination

1 Corinthians 11:28 & 31
"A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup.... 31But if we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment."

I know that there is no shortage of places in my life to examine - so why do I avoid judging myself? Guilt? Pride? Fear? When I fail to identify the sin in my life I am guilty of the blood of Christ rather than cleansed by it. When I harbor sin in my heart and mind, I choose to take lightly the blood of Jesus. His blood was shed for not only my justification, but also for my sanctification. I'll never be made Holy until I let the knowledge and weight of my sin and His death penetrate my heart and life. When I rightly see my sin, the celebration of the Eucharist takes on a whole different powerfully sanctifying nature. It no longer condemns but conforms. I move from a standing of guilt to one of grace. But I'll never get there unless I am willing to examine myself; to ruthlessly judge my actions, words, thoughts and motives in the light of the cross.

God, help me to see my sin. Grant me the strength to judge myself and open up the process of sanctification daily. May I rightly approach my sin, the cross and the Lord's supper - and celebrate His death in joy rather than judgement. Make me holy through the power of confession. Amen.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


1 Corinthians 10:13 "No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it." How often have I sat alone, isolated and dwelling on my sad situation? How often have I convinced myself that my trial is unique and that nobody else would understand? The truth is that if someone else is still sucking air, they know exactly how I feel. Nothing I face makes me unique or special. No trial grants me entitlement, special grace or exemption. Temptation is common. However, what does make me unique is how I face trials and temptation. God has graciously extended strength and a way of escape to all of us through the Holy Spirit and His body, the church. The real test is whether or not I chose to stand in His strength or follow His way of escape. God is faithful, the question is, "Will I be faithful?" I must get out of my own head, stop focusing on my strength or weakness, and stop sulking about my trial. I must get out of myself and open my eyes to what He is doing through the Holy Spirit and His church. I must learn to celebrate God's grace and find gratitude for His provisions. Father, forgive me for dwelling on my trials and tribulations. Forgive me for forgetting Your grace and provisions for me. Convict my heart in the moment I turn inward and help me celebrate Your grace and goodness to me. Give me the mind and spirit to embrace Your strength and find Your escape. Amen.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

compelled to preach

1 Corinthians 9:16
"For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel!"

Is my calling this clear, this sure, this strong? Am I truly compelled to preach the gospel? Why do I do what I do? Is this a job - a paycheck? Is this just a fun job - to hang out with Christian kids and be a hero? Do I preach because it is easy for me? Why do I do what I do? Is it for the approval or praise of people? Do I minister for the rewarding nature of ministry? What drives me to preach and minister?
To be honest... I am not sure... it's different all the time. Some days it's my boss, others it's the routine. At times it is for praise and recognition. At my most spiritual moments I think it's for the kids. I truly love kids and love to care for them. It's out of this love for kids that I share the Gospel of Christ. But even at my most Spiritual moments I don't believe it is by compulsion or necessity. I wonder what my life and ministry would look like if I was truly compelled by and to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ? I wonder what it would look like if nothing else mattered?
Then again, maybe I have a different calling.

God - make my calling clear, make my motives pure, make my walk strong and make my reward be only You. Amen.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Christian Freedom

1 Corinthians 8:9
"But beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak."

Who is watching me? My wife, my kids, my neighbors, my family, my church friends, the kids in the youth group, strangers who know who I am from church.... What message am I sending? What stereotypes am I reinforcing, confirming or denying? What priorities am I declaring or promoting? Others are watching - am I even aware or has my freedom in Christ become so familiar that I don't even care? When I do care, who am I most aware of? More often than not, I am more sensitive to those outside the church - to be acceptable to them. Shouldn't I be more sensitive to my own body? My health in every way - spiritual ,social , emotional and otherwise is directly related to my care for those in the body of Christ. I must be more alert and willing to disciplining myself and restrain my liberty for the sake of my brothers and sisters in Christ. Then, maybe those outside the church may see our care for one another and be drawn by our discipline rather than our freedom.

God, help me to discipline my freedom for all who are watching.

Friday, May 9, 2008

My Sacrifice

1 Corinthians 7:3

“Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and also likewise the wife to her husband.”

There is no standard checklist of affections due to wives. True to Ephesians 5 I am to nurture her and wash her with the water of the Word, but I am to do this according to the unique needs of my wife in a manner that she can receive. Therefore, husbandry is much more an art than a science. It’s a dance in which I lead but always respond to my partner’s body, position and movements. So marriage is understanding the unique needs, desires, emotions and moods of my bride and responding appropriately. So what are the unique affections due to my bride? What are her unique needs today? I must ask this question daily. If we are not to deprive one another of physical affection but for a time (and only for fasting and prayer. Vs 4-5) then this principle must also hold true for other affections – words of encouragement, acts of service, gifts of love, quality time, tenderness and listening, etc…. I also notice that in this verse Paul addresses the husbands first. Husbands lead the way in affection and need meeting. I sacrifice the needs of my own flesh for the sake of hers - after all, she is my body, we are one flesh. Therefore, I lead and she comes first. I set my own needs, desires, emotions and moods aside for the sake of meeting hers. Ironically, in doing so, I also communicate an immeasurable amount of love and affection for her. This is my calling as a husband.

God – grant me the self-control to be selfless. Grant me the eyes and ears to see and hear the unique needs of my bride. Grant me a tender heart to nurture her according to her needs each day. Grant me the sacrificial attitude of Christ and let me sacrifice for the sake of my wife. Amen.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Good master vs. God Master

1 Corinthians 6:12

"Everything is permissible for me"—but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible for me"—but I will not be mastered by anything."

What good and lawful things have I submitted to as my master instead of God? What hungers do I obey more often than Christ? Have I let my blessings lead me to a sense of entitlement and poor stewardship with my finances? Have I let material blessings lead me to selfishness? Have I let my sexual desires spoil my marriage or lead me to take advantage of my wife? Have I let my hunger and enjoyment of food lead me to gluttony? Have I let comfort lead me to laziness? Have I let logic and reason lead me to arguments and division? Material blessings, comfort, food, sexuality, intellect... these are all good blessings from God that I have allowed to be my master instead of Jesus. I can enjoy these things without letting them lead me to sin if I focus on Christ as my master. I must seek first to honor Him with my time, my thoughts, my attitudes, my heart, my speech and my actions. Everything must be brought before my master and by His authority, brought into submission. My hungers and blessings for that matter, will never submit to me (or Christ) unless I fully submit to Christ first.

God, humble me and be my master... even if by force. Discipline my flesh and bring me into full submission to You. Forgive me for allowing your good blessings to become my master and god. Remove my rebellion and bring my flesh under Your control... even if by force.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Expel Immoral People

1 Corinthians 5:9-13
"I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people. 10 Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. 11 But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner—not even to eat with such a person. 12 For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside? 13 But those who are outside God judges. Therefore “put away from yourselves the evil person.”

These are harsh words of judgement, black and white, cut and dry. God's church is to be holy. A little leaven (sin) leavens (contaminates) the whole lump of dough. I understand the principle here and the purpose behind it, but how can we really practice this? Where do we draw the line with covetousness? How much reviling is too much? How many times must a brother get drunk? Is the principle limited to these sins or do we expel the thief, liar and divider too? Once we throw them out into the world, are we allowed to associate with them again?
I suppose the only way to practice this principle is through prayer - asking God to help judge. After all, prayer is the central point in Matthew's 18th chapter on confronting a sinful brother.

Matthew 18:18-20 "Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. 19 “Again I say[c] to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.”

Prayer is what turns a sinner around and brings restoration. It also advises that if a brother must be expelled, treat him as a pagan, a tax collector or sinner... which would open up a whole new door of relationship and opportunity again. But can I then have a meal with him?

God - make me pray more. May my judgements come from You and not from within me. When you judge, give me words to speak and strength to act. Make me the protector of your church and the children you have entrusted to me. Amen.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Stewards of the Mystery... keeping secrets

1 Corinthians 4:1-2
"Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful."

No servant of God's is common. Each one of us has been trusted with the precious mysteries of God. We've been given charge over a great treasure. This treasure, the mysteries of God, have not been give to us for our own sake. They are not meant to puff us up or bring us honor. These mysteries are unlike other secrets shared with trusted servants in that these secrets are meant to be shared!... proclaimed... shouted even! My worth as a servant and steward of God therefore rests in my ability to share and reveal the wonderful secrets of God. Like the parable of the talents, it won't do to hold onto or keep safe what has been entrusted to me. To be found faithful, I must share.

God, make me more bold in sharing your mysteries with others. Open my eyes to see opportunities and fill me with a desire to share your secrets. Amen.

Monday, May 5, 2008

I am Nothing

1 Corinthians 3:6-7
"I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. 7So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow."

There is no room for pride in working for the Lord. There is no fame or recognition or favor to seek. No amount of planting or watering or hard work will produce even a hint of growth apart from the hand of God. No amount of hard work will produce even a hint of credit for me either. Anyone into awards or "pats on the back" better reconsider working in God's fields. We are not anything... we are nothing.

God, forgive me for taking pride in work You have done. Forgive me for stealing credit from You. Forgive me for boasting about growth. Forgive me for being puffed up about the size of my ministry. Forgive me for pointing to me instead of You. Forgive me for working in my strength and not Yours. Weed out my pride so that You are glorified in Your harvest. Amen.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Spiritual Discernment

1 Corinthians 2:14-16
"But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. For “who has known the mind of the LORD that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ."

Is it that the natural man does not welcome Truth or that he can not welcome it? Does he hear it and reject it or not even hear it to begin with?
What are the things of God that cannot/will not be received by the natural man? In 1 Corinthians 1 it was the idea of Christ crucified; a stumbling block to the Jew and foolishness to the Gentile. Is it more? Is it also the radically upside-down nature of the Christian life? (love your enemy, turn the cheek, unlimited forgiveness, die to self, give to gain, strength in surrender, life in death....)
If this is true, why do we seek the favor, approval and acceptance from among natural people? If I'm reading this right... it's not so that we can share Christ. Compromise cannot produce conviction in the natural heart, but consistency and character can. Contrast with the natural man clearly demonstrates to him something that he can receive. It must seem foolish and powerless to even be noticed by the natural man. It must contain a confusing contrast that prompts them to wonder what is at work. As Paul said to open this second chapter, he did not come with wisdom or philosophy or lofty knowledge - but only knowing one thing, Christ crucified.
If we are to reach the natural man, we must resolve to knowing this - Christ crucified.
We have the mind of Christ, we must listen to and receive what we hear from Him. We must trust that the same Spirit of God who worked on and in us will also work on and in the natural people around us.

God - make me more Spiritually discerning. Amen.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Christ Crucified

1 Corinthians 1:22-25
Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength.

What am I seeking? Power? Knowledge? Favor? Blessing? Success? When we look at the cross we see nothing like these. we see a man crucified, helpless, cursed, abandoned. The sign was clear to the Jew - no power there; to the Greek - nothing like wisdom. There's no power or knowledge or wisdom in death - but there is life. And in the life Christ gives through His death there is immeasurable power and endless wisdom. Yet the Jews and Greeks couldn't see this because they looked past the cross. They focused on those things past the cross. And therefore, the cross made them stumble and brought confusion. But when our focus is Christ - all else comes into focus.
So, where is my focus? Am I looking past Christ crucified3d for something else?... I'll probably find it (that is, something else - other than what I seek - most likely frustration and foolishness). Am I focused on ministry? favor? kids? making changes?... Can I be content to just focus on Christ crucified and let all else follow according to His will? Will I?

God - help me keep my eyes on You and the cross ever before me. Make me to seek You alone each day and trust You alone for all else. Amen.