Monday, July 29, 2013

Feeling Incomplete?

      
Memorizing and Applying 1 Corinthians 13, One Verse per Week Series, Parts 9 and 10


Photo by Roy Saplin (Flickr)

1 Corinthians 13:9-10 (NIV)
9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part,

10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears.


I tried to keep the original “one verse per week” intent, but had a difficult time separating these two verses. In his commentary about these verses, Matthew Henry mentions some incredible things to look forward to in “a future life.”

“There will be no need of tongues, and prophecy, and inspired knowledge, in a future life, because then the church will be in a state of perfection, complete both in knowledge and holiness. God will be known then clearly, and in a manner by intuition, and as perfectly as the capacity of glorified minds will allow; not by such transient glimpses, and little portions, as here.” (Emphasis added.)


But I don’t have to wait. I can pursue knowing God, and even grow in holiness (becoming more like Him) today. Because I know that as I do so, I might actually experience a taste of the future life in heaven. Wow!

And notice the words I italicized in Mr. Henry’s quote. Do you ever feel incomplete? Do you long for a completeness which can only be found in Him?

The Message Bible says it well:
But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled.

As I continue to walk with Jesus and learn what pleases Him, I can’t wait to see how much closer I’ll be to Him a week from now. And just think what it could be like a year from now!

Let’s purpose to grow in the knowledge of God and His love for us (and in us.). And strive to mature in holiness in the way we love others.

Prayer:
Father, I pray my “incompletes” be canceled. Cancel any deceptive beliefs I have regarding You. Help me to grow in true knowledge, holiness and love (toward You and toward Your people.) I want You to complete me in every area!

This week’s goal:
To memorize 1 Corinthians 13:9 and 10, while continuing to allow God to complete me in every area – especially in the way I love Him and others. And to grow in holiness as I seek to know God better.

What about you?
  • In what areas are you incomplete as a person and as a Christ follower?

  • What are you willing to do to become more complete in Him?

Let me know if you would like a copy of any of these verses and what translation you prefer, by using the comment link below. I will email them to you, formatted to fit a standard index card. (Be sure to subscribe to the blog, via email).

Sunday, July 21, 2013

His Love Is Changing Me


1 Corinthians 13:8 (NIV)
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.
  
Photo by Iryna Yeroshko (Flickr)
“A love that never fails! Hard to imagine, isn’t it? Has human love ever failed you? … I’m guessing your answer may be, ‘Yes it has –  more times than I like to admit!’ 1 Corinthians 13:8 promises that ‘love never fails!’ Not God’s kind of love anyway. …

“Listen to heaven’s answer: God loves you – with a love that never fails. Personally. Powerfully. Passionately. God loves you with unfailing love!” – “A Love That Never Fails,” Max Lucado - UpWords Ministries, May 30, 2013

Knowing this kind of love is reassuring. I would have given up a long time ago had it not been for God never giving up on me. And as I continue to learn how much He loves me (in spite of my rebellious ways) I am learning to see myself – and others – differently.

Since I’ve begun writing for this blog and the Coffee with Sheryl Blog, I have received lots of emails from those struggling with various sinful or bad habits. God’s constant love and mercy toward me regarding choices I’ve made in the past (and continue to make) have enabled me to be much less judgmental.

Prayer:
Father, thank You for never failing to love me, especially when I don’t deserve it. And help me to love others with that same kind of love!

This week’s goal:
While memorizing 1 Corinthians 13:8, I will recognize more fully God’s unfailing love for me and learn to extend that same kind of love toward others.

What about you?
  • Does realizing that God’s love for you will never come to an end help you see yourself – and others – differently?

I will be happy to email you these verses, formatted to fit an index card! Let me know what translation you prefer by using the comment link below. Be sure to subscribe to the blog, via email.


Monday, July 15, 2013

Believing the Best of Fellow Believers

Memorizing and Applying 1 Corinthians 13, One Verse per Week Series, Part 7


Photo by Kelsey (Flickr)


1 Corinthians 13:7 (NIV)
It [love] always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

This week, I want us to consider the way we love our fellow Christians. Or more accurately, the way we fail to love those we worship with each week, and those outside our own fellowships.


“In reference, first, to our fellow Christians, love always believes the best of them. I wish we had more of this faith abroad in all the churches, for a horrid blight falls upon some communities through suspicion and mistrust.”
“Love's Labours," a sermon by C. H. Spurgeon, September 4, 1881

Pastor Spurgeon’s words are very sobering – and very embarrassing. And sad to say, the world notices the way we turn on each other within the church. What if we were to determine this week to change that?

Let’s ask God to examine our hearts so we can see where we fail in this area. Could it be that the more we purpose to believe the best of every believer, the more we will instill a greater spirit of unity? And perhaps, actually start to resemble the body of Christ?

I really love this verse in the Amplified Bible!
1 Corinthians 13:7
Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything [without weakening].

Prayer:
Father, forgive me for my judgmental attitude, especially when it is against another believer. Remind me that “There but by the grace of God, go I.”

This week’s goal:
While memorizing 1 Corinthians 13:7, I will intentionally believe the best of my fellow Christians and ask God how to pray for them.

I welcome your comments:
  • Are you willing to stop judging other believers, and pray for your sisters and brothers in Christ instead?

  • What other ways can you help to create more unity in your church?

I will be happy to email you these verses, formatted to fit an index card! Let me know what translation you prefer by using the comment link below. Be sure to subscribe to the blog, via email.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Can I Be an Ambassador to My Enemies?

Memorizing and Applying 1 Corinthians 13, One Verse per Week Series, Part 6

Photo by Kelsey (Flickr)

The more time we spend on this chapter in the Bible, the more the Holy Spirit convicts me. Verse six reminds me of yet another area I need to work on. 

1 Corinthians 13:6 (NIV)
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

We can look at this verse in at least two ways that often overlap:

1) not delighting in anything evil (anything not of God)

2) not rejoicing at another’s misfortune or failure.

Matthew Henry wrote about the latter perspective in his commentary:
“It is the very height of malice to take pleasure in the misery of a fellow-creature. And is not falling into sin the greatest calamity that can befall one? How inconsistent is it with Christian charity, to rejoice at such fall!”

This is a very easy trap to fall into. I don’t want to be the kind of person who delights when even a person I’m not crazy about ends up suffering from consequences resulting from his or her past choices. Rather I want make it my goal to be God’s ambassador even to “my enemies.”

You too?  When we hear people talking about someone who has blown it, let’s defend the person being vilified by mentioning that we too have made poor choices. And then let’s invite others to join us in looking for ways to help that person overcome the consequences he or she is experiencing.

In so doing, we’ll be practicing what it means to not delight in evil. Instead, we will be allowing truth (including God’s goodness) to prevail!

Prayer:
Father, forgive me for all the times I have delighted in someone’s misfortune or failure. For now on, I pray You will use me to help bring restoration to those who are suffering from poor choices.

This week’s goal:
Recognize whenever I am enjoying someone’s misfortune. Then stop and repent. And (when possible) find a way to do something good for that person.

What about you?
  • Do you know someone who is suffering consequences from poor choices?

  • What acts of kindness can you offer that person?

Let me know if you would like a copy of any of these verses and what translation you prefer, by using the comment link below. I will email them to you, formatted to fit a standard index card. (Be sure to subscribe to the blog, via email).

Monday, July 1, 2013

Dying to the Desire for Revenge


Memorizing and Applying 1 Corinthians 13, One Verse per Week Series, Part 5

Photo by Kelsey (Flickr)
As we grow in our ability to love others – just as God loves us – we begin to behave more becomingly. We begin to notice that we’re caring more about the needs of others than we do our own. And miracle above miracles, we start spending less time moping about how others mistreat us.

These are the challenges we will work on as we memorize and obey our next verse:

1 Corinthians 13:5 (NIV)
It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.


“Not taking account of wrongs means dying to the desire for revenge.”
 “Dying as a Means of Loving Part 2” A Sermon by John Piper, June 25, 1995


Most of my attitude problems stem from me wanting to be treated fairly. “Revenge” is a strong word and many of us probably wouldn’t consider ourselves to be vengeful, but we may be more guilty than we think.

Revenge could be as “innocent” as bringing up (again!) an unkind action someone performed in the past, or as cruel as shaming someone in public when we reveal personal matters. Sabotaging someone’s success or promotion is also an effective way to dishonor someone.

This week, let’s pay special attention to see whether we are improving in the way we love others.

Prayer:
Father, show me specifically how I can improve my behavior toward others. Reveal to me whenever I put my own needs above someone else’s, or when I’m tempted to hold onto memories when someone mistreats me.
 
This week’s goal:
To journal my observations on how I behave toward others, including:
  1. how often I put my own needs above someone else’s,
  2. how often I am easily angered by the actions of others, and
  3. whether or not I choose to “remember” someone’s offense against me (in lieu of forgiving them).

What about you?

  • Are you becoming better at loving others? Share your answers with us. (Pseudonyms are allowed!)
Let me know if you would like a copy of any of these verses and what translation you prefer, by using the comment link below. I will email them to you, formatted to fit a standard index card. (Be sure to subscribe to the blog, via email).
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