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An Unexpected Gift

Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence? Psalm 139:7

When I was a child, a popular Christmas song that was used to keep us children in line was “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town”. Adults used the lyrics to remind us of how we shouldn’t behave prior to Christmas, because Santa Claus was constantly aware of how good or bad we were, and it might keep him from bringing gifts to us. We were told that we “better not cry” or “pout” because that would be bad. Also that Santa Claus was aware of us even when we were asleep, so our dreams might be suspect.

Thinking back, I wonder if some of my ideas about God’s knowledge and perception of me were carried over in my mind from those reminders. I know that I have been anxious over a lot of years wondering if I was being a good enough wife, parent, grandparent, co-worker, friend and neighbor. There was always something, and even someone who let me know that I was failing, and the implication was that God knew it and was disappointed with me.

Through a lot of years of Bible study, prayer, some counseling and much reading, I have learned differently, and Psalm 139 has been a major Old Testament help. Though, I continue to get frustrated and anxious about things. For instance, this week it has been about some technology that has been updated, reminding me how little I know and how stupid I feel. I know God doesn’t see me or treat me that way.

Recently I was asked, “when I felt least afraid and anxious” and I told about my experience in the hospital on Christmas Eve, 2020:

On December 16, I tested positive for Covid 19, and because we could check my oxygen level and it was low, the Dr. told me to get to emergency. I was admitted to the hospital and at 2:00 a.m. on December 20, I was taken to ICU because I needed more oxygen than I could be given where I was. I was able to let my son know, and he contacted my daughter. They talked to the Dr. and were told “that if I had to go on a ventilator, I might not make it out”. I knew that, too.

Obviously, thanks to the Lord, a lot of people praying, and the wonderful care I received from all the hospital staff, I did “make it”. There are so many good things that have come from that experience. It was not a bad thing to be wholly dependent on God for my attitude and on the kindness of the various medical staff. I don’t remember being afraid or anxious about the outcome.

By Christmas Eve night, still in ICU, I remember telling God that “if I couldn’t be where I wanted to be, I was with Him in the best place I could be with such caring people”. As strange as it may sound, the whole experience was a life changing gift for me and is a cherished memory.

Reading and pondering Psalm 139 is especially helpful for focusing on how fully we are known and cared for by God. Although verses 19-22 talk about external enemies, too often I find that my own memories, thoughts and attitudes are my “enemies’’. I am so grateful for the prayer at the end.

Search me [thoroughly], O God, and know my heart;
Test me and know my anxious thoughts;
And see if there is any wicked or hurtful way in me,
And lead me in the everlasting way. Psalm 139:23-24 AMP

Take some time to read Psalm 139. Perhaps use a different Bible than you usually do. Perhaps the Amplified, the Message or King James versions.

An Unexpected Gift2023-01-28T12:06:58-07:00

Paul: Prisoner, Preacher, Practitioner

For I have learned to be content [and self-sufficient through Christ, satisfied to the point where I am not disturbed or uneasy] regardless of my circumstances. Philippians 4:11b AMP

The things which you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things [in daily life], and the God [who is the source] of peace and well-being will be with you. Philippians 4:9 AMP

Some of you reading this may remember a newscaster named Paul Harvey who had a radio program from 1951-2008. My favorite part of the program was called, “The Rest of the Story.” During his broadcast, he would tell the backstory of some headline news that gave a different perspective on an event and the people involved. What he said was verifiable truth. I enjoy reading and learning about the people in the Bible in the same way and especially their relationship with God.

The Apostle Paul is one of my favorites. His back story is traumatic and I wonder what kind of memories may have haunted him over the years, which awes me that he could write the two verses above and others like them in most of the epistles.

In Philippians 3:4-6, Paul gives a brief description of his early life of his confidence in his nationality, education and Pharisee zeal in persecuting the church, as well as his faultless obedience to the law. Acts 9 tells about Saul (Paul’s) conversion and Ananias being sent to restore Saul’s sight and what the Lord’s call would be on his life. When Ananias is reluctant, the Lord said,

“Go, for this man is a [deliberately] chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; for I will make clear to him how much he must suffer and endure for My name’s sake.” Acts 9:15-16 AMP

I wonder how I would have responded if I had been told beforehand what I would live through to follow Jesus.

What I see in and appreciate about Paul is that he “learned to be content”, which indicates he practiced the very same things he told other followers of Christ to do. He was in prison in Rome when he wrote Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians and Philemon, and in all of them he gives thanks for the people in those locations and encourages their growth in Christ Jesus. Though Paul was in chains for preaching and living the gospel of Christ, he was not chained-up inside himself. He practiced what he preached.

Along with me, take some time to read Philippians and find out more about how Paul encourages us to keep going in releasing our anxieties in Christ Jesus.

Paul: Prisoner, Preacher, Practitioner2023-01-15T00:10:34-07:00

Stewards of Light

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness.
Genesis 1:3-4 NIV

This, in essence, is the message we heard from Christ and are passing on to you: God is light, pure light; there’s not a trace of darkness in him.       1 John 1:5 MSG

“Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world.” Mathew 5:14 MSG

“Again, the Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a man going on a long trip. He called together his servants and entrusted his money to them while he was gone.“ Matthew 25:14 NLT

Having pondered the Matthew 25:14 story for years, I have wondered, what if instead of money, the man entrusted the people on his estate to the servants. So I’m going to share an abridged, personal paraphrase of this scripture:

When the owner of a large estate was preparing for a long journey, he met with three of his servants. Promoting them to stewards, and according to their abilities, he put them in charge of managing his property and the people living there. To one steward he gave a large city; to another he gave a midsize town; to the third he gave a small village.

During the meeting, the first two paid close attention to everything the owner told them. They focused on his facial expressions, with their ears open to the tone of his voice, so that after he was gone, they would remember his charge to them – as well as his smile and his manner. The third kept glancing at the others, because he felt that he was not treated as well as they. When the meeting was over, the first two stewards left with the earnest desire to represent the owner as they found him: kind, generous and loving. The third carried envy and bitterness within himself, and so he decided to portray the owner to the village as unkind and selfish.

The owner was gone for several years. When he returned, he called the three stewards to an assessment. The first steward arrived with his family and a crowd of people from the city, all desiring to see and honor the owner that the steward had portrayed by his wise, kind management of the city. The second steward, also, arrived with his family and a crowd of townspeople, because he too had managed their town with wisdom and kindness.

The third steward came alone, because neither his family nor any of the people in the village wanted to see an owner so mean and uncaring that he would put such a manager over them.

When I think of Matthew 5:14, that we are to be light in the world, I think of the battery powered, triple candles I place in the windows at my house. They shine from Thanksgiving until the batteries run out of power well after Christmas.

I also think of how Paul puts it in 1 Corinthians 6:19 “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?”

The Holy Spirit is the power by whom we are able to carry the light of Christ into the world as we live in our homes, neighborhoods, church, wider community, and the world.

As we go about each day, let us ponder the way the Holy Spirit empowers our lives to reflect the light of Jesus and his way through us to our families, church and the surrounding community.

Stewards of Light2022-11-19T13:18:39-07:00

Jesus in Nazareth

Mark 6:1-5, Matthew 13:54-58 and Luke 4:14-37 – all tell about Jesus returning to his hometown, Nazareth, in the early days of his public ministry.

Just a Carpenter

He left there and returned to his hometown. His disciples came along. On the Sabbath, he gave a lecture in the meeting place. He stole the show, impressing everyone. “We had no idea he was this good!” they said. “How did he get so wise all of a sudden, get such ability?”

But in the next breath they were cutting him down: “He’s just a carpenter—Mary’s boy. We’ve known him since he was a kid. We know his brothers, James, Justus, Jude, and Simon, and his sisters. Who does he think he is?” They tripped over what little they knew about him and fell, sprawling. And they never got any further.

Jesus told them, “A prophet has little honor in his hometown, among his relatives, on the streets he played in as a child.” Jesus wasn’t able to do much of anything there—he laid hands on a few sick people and healed them, that’s all. He couldn’t get over their stubbornness. Mark 6:1-5 MSG

Jesus Revisits Nazareth

When Jesus had finished these parables, He left there. And after coming to [Nazareth] His hometown, He began teaching them in their synagogue, and they were astonished, and said, “Where did this Man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers [what is the source of His authority]?

Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary? And are not His brothers, James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And His sisters, are they not [living here] among us? Where then did this Man get all this [wisdom and power]?”

And they took offense at Him [refusing to believe in Him]. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.” And He did not do many miracles there [in Nazareth] because of their unbelief. Matthew 13:53-58

Matthew 2 and Luke 2 have most of what we know about the early years of Jesus in Nazareth, but the people who lived there would have been involved with his life for all of his years growing up from childhood to manhood. Even though rumors of what he was doing possibly preceded his visit to his hometown community, it must have been hard to perceive him as other than what he seemed to be was during all those years.

If I’m honest and I didn’t have the whole Bible in a variety of versions and a great many fine teachers and study materials, I might have responded like the people in Nazareth did. I can read more about Jesus, who he is, what he did, how he treated men, women, and children. They only had the Law, the Prophets and what they had experienced of him for 30 years.

Both the Mark and Matthew accounts mention that he did some healing miracles, so there were some unnamed people who trusted him, but the majority did not. I wonder what those people did after they received healing from Jesus. Perhaps the experience and transformation of a few, planted seeds of change in the community over time.

This week read and meditate on the scriptures mentioned in each of the devotionals.
Also read Luke 4:14-37 for an additional description of Jesus’ return to Nazareth.

And join in on Friday’s podcast with Alex and Aaron.

I’ll be praying for you this week.

Jesus in Nazareth2022-11-12T10:12:44-07:00

An Extravagant King

For God so [greatly] loved and dearly prized the world, that He [even] gave His [One and] only begotten Son, so that whoever believes and trusts in Him [as Savior] shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge and condemn the world [that is, to initiate the final judgment of the world], but that the world might be saved through Him. John 3:16-18a AMP

Parable of the Marriage Feast

Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son. And he sent his servants to call those who had [previously] been invited to the wedding feast, but they refused to come. Matthew 22:1-3 AMP

Parable of the Dinner

But Jesus said to him, “A man was giving a big dinner, and he invited many guests; and at the dinner hour he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, because everything is ready now.’ But they all alike began to make excuses. Luke 14:16-18a AMP

I enjoy using different versions of the Bible because I find that it is too easy to pass over something if I get too familiar with how it is said in one version. What catches my attention in the above scriptures are the words: “gave” in John 3:16, “gave” in Matthew 22:1 and “was giving” in Luke 14:16.

I can only imagine what it would have been like for the religious leaders, the disciples and the rest of the people who heard Jesus tell the parables above, but it seems obvious that Jesus was referring to how God desired to love and give honor to both his son and the invited guests.

It also appears that the “invited” guests originally said they would come, because in order to have a feast for a large number of people the host had to know how much food to prepare for it. Matthew 22:4 gives the massive amount of meat that was prepared for the feast and had to be eaten promptly. (There was no way of keeping the meat for a later event in Jesus’ day.)

I have to ask myself how I respond to God in how he loves and invites me to spend time with him feasting on his word. Do I make excuses for not doing that, particularly if I have already told him I desire a growing relationship with him as Father, Jesus, and Holy Spirit?

How about you? As you engage in the devotional readings this week, ask yourself some similar questions. As a reminder of how much God loves us,
read 1 John 4:7-21.

Friday’s devotional is going to be a podcast by Alex Walton and Aaron Bjorklund where they will discuss the sermon from Sunday, November 6. The link to it will be published on Friday.

An Extravagant King2022-11-04T22:34:59-06:00

Our Bodies As “Seeds”

Some skeptic is sure to ask, “Show me how resurrection works. Give me a diagram; draw me a picture. What does this ‘resurrection body’ look like?” If you look at this question closely, you realize how absurd it is. There are no diagrams for this kind of thing. We do have a parallel experience in gardening. You plant a “dead” seed; soon there is a flourishing plant. There is no visual likeness between seed and plant. You could never guess what a tomato would look like by looking at a tomato seed. What we plant in the soil and what grows out of it don’t look anything alike. The dead body that we bury in the ground and the resurrection body that comes from it will be dramatically different.

You will notice that the variety of bodies is stunning. Just as there are different kinds of seeds, there are different kinds of bodies—humans, animals, birds, fish—each unprecedented in its form. You get a hint at the diversity of resurrection glory by looking at the diversity of bodies not only on earth but in the skies—sun, moon, stars—all these varieties of beauty and brightness. And we’re only looking at pre-resurrection “seeds”—who can imagine what the resurrection “plants” will be like!

This image of planting a dead seed and raising a live plant is a mere sketch at best, but perhaps it will help in approaching the mystery of the resurrection body—but only if you keep in mind that when we’re raised, we’re raised for good, alive forever! The corpse that’s planted is no beauty, but when it’s raised, it’s glorious. Put in the ground weak, it comes up powerful. The seed sown is natural; the seed grown is supernatural—same seed, same body, but what a difference from when it goes down in physical mortality to when it is raised up in spiritual immortality!

We follow this sequence in Scripture: The First Adam received life, the Last Adam is a life-giving Spirit. Physical life comes first, then spiritual—a firm base shaped from the earth, a final completion coming out of heaven. The First Man was made out of earth, and people since then are earthy; the Second Man was made out of heaven, and people now can be heavenly. In the same way that we’ve worked from our earthy origins, let’s embrace our heavenly ends. 1 Corinthians 15:35-49 MSG

In my backyard I have an area committed to feeding “my” outdoor wildlife. Each morning I check the bird feeders, put fresh water in the birdbath, and scatter birdseed for the ground feeders and in-the-shell peanuts for the squirrels. As the weather gets cooler, the population increases. This morning there were 11 squirrels and 10 crows having breakfast in the area. The smaller birds usually show up later.

Each summer, some of the seeds sprout and sunflowers appear in several places, and peanut plants show up in some planters where squirrels have buried them. I know what the dead seed looked like, and I rejoice to see the live plants even though I didn’t intentionally plant them.

Paul tried to explain via diverse ‘parallels’ and ‘sketches’ what takes place when a dead human body becomes a resurrected body. For those of us who haven’t seen the resurrected Jesus, it is hard to imagine what it will be like. Paul concedes that what he wrote is only an approach to the mystery and that we need to keep in mind that we will then be alive forever.

For me, I cling to what Jesus said that is recorded in John 14, as well as John’s reminder in 1 John 3. I’ll be praying for you this week as you read the scriptures and devotionals and wrestle with the mystery of resurrection.

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me so that you also may be where I am.” John 14:1-3 NIV

Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know when Christ appears, we all be like him, for we shall see him as he is.
1 John 3:2 NIV

Our Bodies As “Seeds”2022-10-29T10:16:28-06:00

Manifestations of the Holy Spirit

Now about the spiritual gifts [the special endowments given by the Holy Spirit], brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. You know that when you were pagans, you were led off after speechless idols; however you were led off [whether by impulse or habit]. Therefore I want you to know that no one speaking by the [power and influence of the] Spirit of God can say, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is [my] Lord,” except by [the power and influence of] the Holy Spirit.

Now there are [distinctive] varieties of spiritual gifts [special abilities given by the grace and extraordinary power of the Holy Spirit operating in believers], but it is the same Spirit [who grants them and empowers believers]. And there are [distinctive] varieties of ministries and service, but it is the same Lord [who is served]. And there are [distinctive] ways of working [to accomplish things], but it is the same God who produces all things in all believers [inspiring, energizing, and empowering them].

But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit [the spiritual illumination and the enabling of the Holy spirit] for the common good. To one is given through the Holy Spirit [the power to speak] the message of wisdom, and to another [the power to express] the word of knowledge and understanding according to the same Spirit; to another [wonder working] faith [is given] by the same Holy Spirit, and to another the [extraordinary] gifts of healings by the one Spirit; and to another the working of miracles, and to another prophecy [foretelling the future, speaking a new message from God to the people], and to another discernment of spirits [the ability to distinguish sound godly doctrine from the deceptive doctrine of man-made religions and cults], to another various kinds of [unknown] tongues and to another the interpretation of tongues.

All these things [the gifts, the achievements, the abilities, the empowering] are brought about by the same [Holy} Spirit, distributing to each one individually just as He choses. 1 Corinthians 12:1-12 The Amplified Bible

It has been said over the years that the Holy Spirit is the forgotten member, the neglected member, the “Cinderella” of the Trinity. At other times, He has been sensationalized, e.g., glorified, in ways that I’ve come to believe grieves Him. I say this because of what Jesus told the disciples what the Holy Spirit would be about. He whom the Father would send in Jesus’ name. (John 14:26, John 15:26, John 16:7-15).

As I read these scriptures along with 1 Corinthians 12:1-11, I see that the Holy Spirit is about enabling us to grow in knowing and loving God the Father and Jesus Christ, His Son. The manifestations given by the Holy Spirit are how we are strengthened to live in the way of Jesus in the church and out in the world.

A book that I have found helpful in learning to appreciate the Holy Spirit is:
The Holy Spirit-Shy Member of the Trinity by Frederick Dale Bruner and William Holden.

Along with reading the 1 Corinthian scriptures this week, also read those from John as a reminder of what Jesus said the Holy Spirit would be and do. I’ll be praying for you this week!

Manifestations of the Holy Spirit2022-10-21T20:08:56-06:00

Slaves to What or Who?

In my Google search on the word, “slave”, I found that it is a Greek word, “doulos”, which has only one English translation “slave” and means, “to be owned by someone for a lifetime”.

Don’t you know when you offer yourself to someone as obedient slaves, you are the slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.

I am using an example from everyday life because of your human limitations. Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness. When you were slaves to sin you were free from the control of righteousness. What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:16-23 NIV

When Paul wrote about slaves to the Corinthian church, they understood what he meant. In my research I found there were more slaves in Corinth than there were people who had legal rights. Some people became slaves because they owed a debt to the person, others were captives from Roman victories, and others were born into slavery. The Corinthian church was a composite of people who were legal citizens and people who were slaves or servants. Paul used the term “slaves” to explain the difference between “belonging to God in obedience to their Master, Jesus Christ”, or “continuing to live in the way they did before they came to believe in Him” – i.e., not growing in obedience to the way of righteousness and holiness.

When Paul wrote to the church at Corinth, he was writing to every person who had come to faith in Jesus Christ, not only citizens with rights, but also slaves. He reminded them at the beginning of his letter who they were in the Lord Jesus Christ, as individuals and as a community. And he gave thanks to God for all they had been given in Christ to enable them to live in faith and obedience. (1 Corinthians 1:1-9)

I am grateful for these scripture reminders to us in the 21st century.

Recently I read about a couple who were celebrating 60 years of marriage. When asked how they managed to stay committed to each other for so many years, the husband said that they chose to remember the vows they had taken before God and witnesses at their wedding. Indeed, they had displayed them where they could be reminded of them as they walked closely with the Lord and each other in the ups and downs of life.

“They chose to remember” is what grabs me. And I have the written word of God to remind me of who I belong to and the help he has given me to be about what He has called me to do.

Take time this week with each of the coming devotionals to spend time with the Lord listening to him as he enables you to grow in obedience to his loving commands. Praying for a blessed week for each of you.

Slaves to What or Who?2022-10-14T08:04:41-06:00

The Way of a Witness

Am I not free [unrestrained and exempt from any obligation]? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our [risen] Lord [in person]? Are you not [the result and proof of] my work in the Lord? If I am not [considered] an apostle to others at least I am one to you; for you are the seal and certificate and the living evidence of my apostleship in the Lord [confirming and authenticating it].

This is my defense to those who would put me on trial and interrogate me [concerning my authority as an apostle]: Have we not the right to our food and drink [at the expense of the churches]? Have we not the right to take along with us a believing wife, as do the rest of the apostles and the Lord’s brothers and Cephas [Peter]? Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to stop doing manual labor [in order to support our ministry]?

If we have sown [the good seed of] spiritual things in you, is it too much if we reap material things from you? If others share in this rightful claim over you, do we not even more? However, we did not exercise this right, but we put up with everything so that we will not hinder [the spread of] the good news of Christ. 1 Corinthians 9: 1-6 and 11-12 The Amplified Bible

It seems strange that Paul would have to defend his authority as an apostle because he chose to freely give up his rights to be supported by the church for preaching the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

But, considering the societal mixture of the Corinthian church, it isn’t surprising:

The Romans were the power and, possibly wealthy, people. They would expect a preacher to exercise their rights to be paid for preaching.

The Greeks were the intellectuals and likely looked down on anyone who worked at manual labor (making and selling tents) in order to support themselves as preachers of the gospel.

The Jews would not have been so upset, because it was customary for rabbis to have an occupation by which they earned their support.

Paul is showing this immature, divisive group of people a different way of responding, to freely give up their due for the good of those who had come, and might come, to Christ Jesus through the gospel message. Though he hadn’t directly mentioned it yet, he was beginning to teach them that the way of Jesus is LOVE, and what love is like.

I am grateful that we now have the scriptures they didn’t have, and that we can move around in scripture to find how Jesus lived the gospel. We now can learn what Paul wrote in the epistles about God’s love and how to learn to live in the way of love.

In Colossians 3:12-14 Paul conveys this love.

So, as God’s own chosen people, who are holy [set apart, sanctified for His purpose] and well-beloved [by God Himself], put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience [which has the power to endure whatever injustice or unpleasantness comes, with good temper]; bearing graciously with one another, and willingly forgiving each other if one has a cause for complaint against another; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so should you forgive. Beyond all these things put on and wrap yourselves in [unselfish] love, which is the perfect bond of unity [for everything is bound together in agreement when each one seeks the best for others]. The Amplified Bible

Ponder and pray over the devotionals this week that encourage us to live in the way of Jesus with his heart. I’ll be praying for God’s blessing on your life as you go through your week!

The Way of a Witness2022-10-08T23:00:39-06:00

Building Upon a Foundation

According to the [remarkable] grace of God which was given to me [to prepare me for my task], like a skillful master builder I laid a foundation, and now another is building on it. But each one must be careful how he builds on it, for no one can lay a foundation other than the one which is [already] laid, which is Jesus Christ. But if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will be clearly shown [for what it is]; for the day [of judgment] will disclose it, because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality and character and worth of each person’s work. If any person’s work which he has built [on this foundation, that is, any outcome of his effort], remains [and survives this test], he will receive a reward. But if any person’s work is burned up [by the test], he will suffer loss [of his reward]; yet he himself will be saved but only as [one who has barely escaped] through fire. 1 Corinthians 3:10-15. The Amplified Bible

Several things come to my mind when I read the words, “foundation” and “building”.
First: The beginning line of a favorite hymn, The Church’s One Foundation. by Samuel Stone. “The church’s one foundation is Jesus Christ her Lord.”

Second: The first house my husband and I had built for us in a new subdivision in Lakewood in 1965. We purchased it before it was built and checked regularly on the progress from foundation to completion. We were able to choose what we wanted from the exterior brick and roofing to the interior colors, style of fireplace, appliances, flooring, etc., but the work was done for us.

Third: The semi-custom house we had built in Evergreen in 1972. The difference with this one is that the major construction on the house was done by the builder, but we “subcontracted” the finishing details back to ourselves – things like door hanging, painting, ceramic tiling, staining and varnishing the custom cabinets, and whatever else we knew or learned how to do. We had much more personal involvement with this house. We were careful to use quality supplies and tools and to seek help and instruction where we needed it.

In light of Paul’s greeting and affirmation of God’s grace given in Jesus Christ to the Corinthian Church and how God had enriched them in every way, it seems to me that several things are needed.

Given the culture that many of the people had grown up under, they needed to unlearn deeply ingrained ways of relating to each other and learn how to appropriate the riches of grace they had been given. Paul’s letter progressively addresses what they need to unlearn and points to what they need to do to live in the grace and enrichment they have been given. And they needed to make the effort to be involved in the process of doing both unlearning and learning.

I deeply appreciate that Paul says that it is the day of judgment in which each person’s work will be tested, so no one has a right to pass judgment on another’s efforts. And I appreciate that Paul says that it is by the grace God gave him that he was prepared for what he was called to do.

I need the reminders and the encouragement Paul gave the Corinthian community to continue to engage in the process of change and growth in building on the foundation of Jesus Christ.

How about you? Each devotional this week has ways to reflect on your life and what, where and how you can get help in continuing to grow in your relationship with Jesus and with each other in community. The Lord bless you as you make the effort.

Building Upon a Foundation2022-09-24T10:11:03-06:00
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