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About Grace Hunter

Grace is married, has 4 children one of whom is now in heaven. She enjoys reading, crocheting, puzzles, baking and spending time with her granddaughter. She and her husband have attended South Fellowship Church since 2014. She and her husband Jeff enjoy singing in the choir, working in the nursery and helping with the South Food Bank.

Praying Psalm 139

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
Psalm 139:23-24 NIV

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

Being anxious about our past, our present or our future, can be an intensely personal, even isolating experience. But God calls us to be in community. He calls us to be involved in each other’s lives, particularly in prayer for one another. Simply the act of sharing our anxieties with another person can lessen our individual anxieties. Also, it opens the opportunity to lessen another person’s anxieties as well. God calls us to, “carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ,” Galatians 6:2 NIV

I have enjoyed reading and praying through Psalm 139 for myself over the years. A recent conversation with Carolyn Schmitt opened up a new way for me to pray Psalm 139 for others. First, take all the personal pronouns in Psalm 139 and change them to another person’s name. Then Pray through Psalm 139 for that person you want to pray for. If that person’s name is Mary – then this is how it would work in verses Psalm 139:1-6.

O Lord, you have searched Mary, and you know Mary. You know when Mary sits down and when Mary rises; you perceive Mary’s thoughts from afar. You discern her going out and her lying down; you are familiar with all her ways. Before a word is on Mary’s tongue you know it completely, O Lord. You hem her in – behind and before; you have laid your hand upon Mary. Such knowledge is too wonderful for Mary and me, too lofty for us to attain.

You can add your own thoughts as they occur, or as the verses and the Holy Spirit prompts you to pray for that other person.

Here is an example:

“Lord, help Mary to know you, to be aware of how intimately you know her, her thoughts, her wishes, her dreams, and to know that she can place her greatest desires and anxieties in your capable hands, Lord.”

This week, pray for someone else who has a need or is anxious. Use Psalm 139 to guide your prayer.

Praying Psalm 1392023-01-28T11:49:34-07:00

Worst Case Scenario

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:35-39 NIV

I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. Luke 12:4 NIV

Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?
Luke 12:25-26 NIV

Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Luke 4: 33-34 NIV

When I was in high school, I spent entirely too much time dreaming, planning, even scheming about my future. I found my present so distasteful and often wished I could go to sleep and wake up 10 years later. Alex Walton said in a previous sermon that, “we fill our imagined future with continual threats of impending doom or with perpetual dreams of unending success.” Rarely does our present situation or our future correspond to how we have imagined them. Can we control our future? Does worrying about it lessen our anxiety about the future at all?

Perhaps – instead of worrying about the future, we could try a little exercise. Think about the worst thing that could possibly happen to you in the future. It could be – losing a job, experiencing divorce, having a child with a disability, losing a spouse or another loved one, having to live miles away from friends or family, or something else? Once you have thought of what your own “worst-case scenario” in the future could be, then ask yourself, “if that thing actually occurred, would I still be alright? Would I be able to be content in that situation, if I was still sure of God’s love, of His presence, of His continued direction and involvement in my life?”

If you are not sure of how to answer that question for yourself, I suggest you look at one or more of these people’s lives, and how they were able to experience God’s presence and provision – even in the midst of their “worst-case scenarios” – Joni Eareckson Tada, Corrie Ten Boom or Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Joni has been a quadriplegic for over 50 years, Corrie Ten Boom survived living in a Nazi concentration camp, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer was persecuted, imprisoned and eventually martyred by the Nazis. All 3 of these Christians knew God’s presence in the midst of their darkest hour – when everything they had hoped and dreamed could have come true – but had been stripped away from them.

Read the above scriptures. Ask yourself, “where is my treasure? What have I placed my hope in? Would I be ok, if all I had was God’s presence, God’s assurance of His love?” If the answer is yes, then worrying about the future can simply fade away; it will no longer consume our thoughts, because we will have an eternal perspective of the future.

Worst Case Scenario2023-01-22T23:15:01-07:00

Press Stop on the Replay Button

My husband and I have attended and facilitated several 13-week series of GriefShare classes. This is an amazing program, and I encourage anyone who is in a season of grief to look into these classes, as they are well worth attending for the learning and for sharing experiences. South is starting a new GriefShare series on January 29th. Every loss of a loved one is different, and all loss involves pain. Some losses include the added trauma of the particular way a person died, or from someone actually witnessing or participating in an unsuccessful attempt to resuscitate a loved one. It can be common for the grieving person to “replay” the death scene in his or her mind over and over or the last painful days of a loved one – because of the trauma of that particular death.

One of the helpful things I learned in attending GriefShare was that so much of our grieving takes place in our thoughts, in our minds, and in our emotions that those thoughts trigger. For me, I came to see Philippians 4:4-9 as an extremely practical method of learning how to stop replaying that tape in my mind.

Paul first encourages us to, “rejoice in the Lord always,” Philippians 4:4 NIV.

Second, he reminds us, “The Lord is near,” Philippians 4:5 NIV.

Third, he tells us how to pray, “Do not be anxious about anything but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present our requests to God,” Philippians 4:6 NIV.

Fourth, Paul assures us, “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus,” Philippians 4:7. NIV

In the above verses Paul lays out the plan how to leave those unhealthy tapes we replay in our minds, whatever we worry about, at the feet of Jesus. But I know for me, that if that was all I’m doing, those tapes would keep flooding back in a jiffy. I am glad Paul includes the next section. He tells us to replace those not so healthy thoughts with, “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things,” Philippians 4:8. NIV

If you also find that an “unhealthy” tape is on replay in your mind, then

  1. Recognize the unhealthy tape is on replay
  2. Decide to stop
  3. Make a conscious decision – to focus on, to concentrate on, to think about something that is lovely, excellent or admirable, etc. (My amplified version)

When we shift our mental focus to what is true, noble and right in any situation, our anxiety and worry, and even the trauma we have experienced can lessen. We gain a healthier perspective in our current situation, and can take a step forward toward healing, even if we are on a grief journey.

Press Stop on the Replay Button2023-01-14T23:55:36-07:00

How Can We Be the Salt of the Earth?

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.” Matthew 5:13 NIV

“Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” Luke 14:34-35 NIV

Let us set the stage a little bit. These verses are found in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in Matthew and at a time of teaching to a crowd in Luke. The Sermon on the Mount most likely took place somewhere near the Sea of Galilee.

Both the disciples and the crowds understood the importance and value of salt in their society. Salt was used as wages for Roman soldiers – the word salary comes from the word salt. Salt was used to preserve fish and meat so it would not spoil, and so it could be preserved and eaten at a future time. In Jesus’ day, salt was valuable, not available on every street corner, and was used as a preservative for food. This use of salt puts a different light on these verses written by Paul nearly 2000 years ago to the church at Colossae.

Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. Colossians 4:5-6

What might Paul be asking the church to preserve? How are we to act as preservatives in our world today? Alex has been teaching us that we should want South Fellowship to be the kind of community that would be missed by our city if we were not here. How is our service to the neighborhood, to the community we serve, valuable?

Colossians 4:5-6 comes immediately after Colossians 3:1-17 in which Paul gave some specific instructions on how we as Christians ought to live, love, and serve each other – in light of our salvation and our new life in Christ. Chapter 3 of Colossians puts meat on the bones of exactly how we can be salt and light in our community. Read Colossians 3; take note of how we are not supposed to act, and what we are not to say to one another. Notice what we are to say and do as we serve one another in the body of Christ and in the community at large. Let the Holy Spirit speak to you to choose one thing from these verses to focus on. Make an effort to stop doing something in these lists – that we are to put to death, and put effort into clothing yourself with a contrasting trait Paul exhorts us to embody and live out daily.

How Can We Be the Salt of the Earth?2022-11-19T10:28:28-07:00

When Healing Is Desired, Seek Jesus

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night (and am not silent), but I find no rest. Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the praise of Israel. In you our fathers put their trust; they trusted and you delivered them. They cried to you and were saved; in you they trusted and were not disappointed. Psalm 22:1-5 NIV

When Jesus had again crossed over by boat to the other side of the lake, a large crowd gathered around him while he was by the lake.
Mark 5:21 NIV

…. A large crowd followed and pressed around him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering. Mark 5:24-29 NIV

I can’t help delving into her thoughts and emotions within her crises:

I am lonely, I long for the touch of another human being, I miss worshiping with my family friends. How long oh Lord? I am in such pain. I have sought every cure that money can buy. I have no more money to spend. Over the past 12 years I have become weaker. I am in more pain, and sometimes I feel hopeless. Sometimes I think I will die soon; sometimes I even wish for it. I know the Lord can heal me, but when oh Lord?

Then suddenly I hear that Jesus, who has healed many others, is coming to my town! If only I could get near him, if only I could touch his clothes, then I would be healed, then I would be restored, then I would be saved! There he is! He just got out of the boat. Oh please Lord, let me get near to him. There are so many other people pushing and walking alongside him. Oh, I see an opening – I am getting closer now – I can just touch his cloak – thank you Lord! The pain is gone! The bleeding has stopped! I am healed! You heard my prayer! Praise God!

At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?” “You see the people crowding against you,” his disciples answered, “and yet you can ask, `Who touched me?'” But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. Mark 5:30-32 NIV

I had hoped I could be healed and go away quietly. I don’t want to attract attention, or scorn. I have had enough accusation and feeling shunned for the past 12 years. But,

Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” Mark 5:33-34 NIV

What do you think this woman did next? Can you imagine her feelings of relief, of euphoria, of freedom from isolation and pain? If you have had a season in your life of extended pain, suffering, trial or difficulty, think back on that time. This woman sought Jesus out; she went to him. Jesus healed this woman physically and spiritually. Her faith in God was strong, and her body was completely restored. Do you seek Jesus out when you are in need? Trust in Jesus’ ability to restore, to heal, and to relieve suffering. Trust in God’s sovereignty, in His timing, in His method to bring about restoration in your life and in the lives of those you love.

When Healing Is Desired, Seek Jesus2022-11-12T09:24:00-07:00

What Is Hospitality Anyway?

When one of those at the table with him heard this, he said to Jesus, “Blessed is the man who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.” Jesus replied: “A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, `Come, for everything is now ready.’ “But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, `I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’ “Another said, `I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’ “Still another said, `I just got married, so I can’t come.’ “The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, `Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’ “`Sir,’ the servant said, `what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.’ “Then the master told his servant, `Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in, so that my house will be full. I tell you, not one of those men who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.'” Luke 14:15-22 NIV

Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come. “Then he sent some more servants and said, `Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.’ “But they paid no attention and went off–one to his field, another to his business. The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. “Then he said to his servants, `The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. Go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, both good and bad, and the wedding hall was filled with guests. “But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. `Friend,’ he asked, `how did you get in here without wedding clothes?’ The man was speechless. “Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ “For many are invited, but few are chosen.” Matthew 22:1-14 NIV

What is hospitality? Is it only inviting people over to dinner at your home? Could it involve making food for a new mom and her family and delivering it hot in disposable dishes so nothing needs to be returned? Could it include welcoming new people to our church in the lobby on Sunday morning? Surely it includes helping a disabled person in a wheelchair who needs help opening a heavy door. Maybe it is bringing craft items for children to make while they wait for parents to shop in our food bank. Could it include remembering someone’s name in greeting them and asking how we might pray for them?

Our passages this week describe an incredible feast. Both Luke 14:15-24 and Matthew 22:1-14 convey parables that inform us of the Kingdom of God. Read both passages. Notice the similarities and the differences. One similarity is that the host is extravagant in his preparations for the feast and in his desire to have many guests attend to enjoy his feast. The host is very hospitable, but some of the invited guests are not. In fact, some of them are quite rude and inconsiderate. Have you ever thought about how you treat your host as being “hospitable”? Have you realized that responding to a wedding invitation in a timely manner is another way of being hospitable? Both of these passages give us a glimpse of the Kingdom of God. After reading both passages and looking at the differences and similarities, what strikes you the most about hospitality?

The host of the banquet in both of these passages is hospitable, welcoming and inviting to the marginalized in his city. How can we be the same? Perhaps you could write a letter to someone you know who is grieving, and let that person know you care, that you are praying for them, and offer help as needed. Perhaps you could make a meal for someone who is ill or has had surgery, or for a family with a new baby. Maybe you know someone who is currently in a discouraging season and could use a phone call, an encouraging note, or an in-person visit. If you are not currently involved in South’s Food Bank, we have opportunities twice a week to be a part of welcoming those who need the food we provide. Spend some time thinking about an unusual or unique way you could be hospitable to someone who needs to be welcomed and valued this week.

What Is Hospitality Anyway?2022-11-05T12:03:51-06:00

Jesus’ Resurrection Conquers Evil Forces

When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.
Colossians 2:13-15 NIV

But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. I Corinthians 15:20-26 NIV

October brings many gruesome and scary decorations into yards in America. In a way, it can be a reminder to us that the evil we see in the world is not simply from people making poor choices, but that humans are influenced by evil forces, authorities, powers – then they make poor choices and act on them – this causes much of the evil in our world.

As Christians striving to live in the way of Jesus with the heart of Jesus, what can we do? Where can we gain encouragement in this struggle against the evil forces at work in our world today? First, we need to recognize that Jesus’ finished work on the cross and his resurrection has defeated death, Satan and his demons. Revelation 20:4 “Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire.” We know the ending – death and Satan will be destroyed forever. Second, though we have struggles in our everyday lives that can involve these evil forces, we have a power that is indescribably more powerful than anything Satan can produce.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Ephesians 6:10-13 NIV

In the next few verses of Ephesians 6 Paul gives details of exactly how we can stand firm in our daily struggle against the evil forces in our world. Read Ephesians 6:10-18. Take note of how we can engage in this battle, the actions we can take – notice the power of the Holy Spirit in our prayers. Paul tells us in Colossians 2:15 that Jesus has triumphed over the evil forces in our world, the battle has been won, and we need to remember and live daily in the power of Jesus’ death and resurrection. C.S Lewis’ book The Screwtape Letters is written from the point of view of a supervisor demon instructing a novice demon on how to influence Christians into being ineffective in their spiritual walk. It reveals the subtle ways evil forces can influence our thinking and therefore our lives. Spend some time this week reading and studying Ephesians 6:10-18, or reading The Screwtape Letters.

Jesus’ Resurrection Conquers Evil Forces2022-10-29T09:36:18-06:00

Are You Using Your Gifts?

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.
I Corinthians 12:4-7 NIV

Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? But eagerly desire the greater gifts. And now I will show you the most excellent way. I Corinthians 12:27-31

The culture in Corinth was focused on status – who was rich, powerful, influential and in charge. It is not surprising that new Christians also were prone to contend for status within the Corinthian church by categorizing certain Spiritual gifts as more important or more desirable. Paul uses two illustrations to talk about different Spiritual gifts – a building and a physical body. Both help to get his point across.

We could also use any organization – the army for instance – to get the same point across. In the army of course there are leaders and followers. There are fewer leaders at the very top of the organization and more followers closer to the bottom. But each person has an essential role or job to fulfill. It may seem that the company cook and the company clerk are not as important as the general, but everyone must eat good food in order to perform their important jobs, and if there was no one to order jeeps, trucks or other supplies, no one would have the essential items required to do their daily tasks.

Paul lists the various Spiritual gifts in many of his letters to the churches. (I Corinthians 12:8-10, I Corinthians 12:27-30, Ephesians 4:11.) He says that each person is to use their particular Spiritual gift,

to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. Ephesians 4:12-16 NIV

Not unlike the different jobs in the army, Christians are to use their Spiritual gifts to build up the church body, benefitting both the individual exercising the gift, and the others who are served by the use of that particular gift. What are your gifts? Are you using them in some way within the church body? Ask God to show you how to use his gifts to you in ways to prepare others for service in God’s kingdom.

Are You Using Your Gifts?2022-10-22T21:56:01-06:00

Who is Weak and Who is Strong?

Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters. One man’s faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him. Romans 14:1-3 NIV

But not everyone knows this. Some people are still so accustomed to idols that when they eat such food they think of it as having been sacrificed to an idol, and since their conscience is weak, it is defiled. But food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do. Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak.
I Corinthians 8:7-9 NIV

Paul used various terms in his letter to the Corinthians to express the differences between the new, young, infant, weak believers and the mature, strong, adult, believers. Who are the weak believers and who are the strong?

We must remember when reading I Corinthians that it was one of Paul’s first letters to any church. Many of the believers in Corinth were mere babies in their Christian faith. The entire church was only 3 years old, so everyone was only 3 years or less into their faith journey. A few were mature in their faith but most Corinthian church members were very new to the concepts Paul was teaching.

Let’s think about an example with young children learning math or reading. Both require learning the basics before going on to the more complicated concepts. It is helpful to teach rules that apply most of the time – to guide these young, immature learners. But, as they learn and grow in an understanding of math and literature, exceptions to the rules become more common. A young child often can’t understand or even tolerate anything that is out of order, or done differently from the way their parents or their first teacher taught them. As children grow, mature and develop, they learn that sometimes there is more than one acceptable way to do things.

A young or weak Christian in Corinth might have viewed eating meat sacrificed to idols as being the worst kind of sin. A mature Christian in Corinth would recognize, “food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do.” I Corinthians 8:8. The mature Christian understands some behaviors are addressed specifically in scripture and others are not. A mature Christian will look at Jesus’ teaching, pray, consider and decide what is the correct behavior for himself in those areas not specified in Scripture.

In 2022 in Littleton Colorado, food sacrificed to idols is not a problem we contend with, but there are other questions we have to face:

How will we as a family deal with Halloween?
Is drinking alcohol okay for me or for my children?
How will we worship God?
How will we observe Sabbath?

Think about a “questionable” behavior; look in scripture, pray, and ask God to direct your behavior concerning that “questionable” behavior. Strive to respond as a mature believer would.

Who is Weak and Who is Strong?2022-10-15T10:20:50-06:00

What is Freedom?

But not everyone knows this. Some people are still so accustomed to idols that when they eat such food they think of it as having been sacrificed to an idol, and since their conscience is weak, it is defiled. But food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do. Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak.
I Corinthians 8:7-9 NIV

The Corinthian church had many young Christians. Those of Jewish background probably advocated that all Christians should observe the Jewish dietary laws. Paul taught them that as Christians they no longer needed to follow dietary laws. Those of a pagan background perhaps had no issues whatsoever in what they ate, not caring if foods sold in the general market place had previously been offered on a pagan altar.

Similar to how a young child acts, often a new or young Christian may seek to “follow the rules” to keep himself from offending God or other believers. A more mature Christian will look to God, His word, and his own conscience to determine his actions, and will understand that some behaviors are spelled out in scripture, and others are not. A strong Christian will know that we have freedom from following the Jewish law, but that we don’t want to abuse that freedom, as Peter tells us:

Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God. Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king. I Peter 2:16 NIV

Paul covers this topic in even more depth in Romans 14-15, and in Galatians 5. Paul also talks of our need to love each other in Romans 13:

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “Do not commit adultery,” “Do not murder,” “Do not steal,” “Do not covet,” and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. Romans 13:8-10

Paul recommends that the young Christian let God determine the rules in his life. He also instructs the mature Christian to not look down on the weak brother, but instead to take the other’s “weakness” into account, to not flaunt one’s own freedom in Christ, but instead to curb behavior as needed to show love, to put someone else first – in order to build that younger Christian up, rather than tear him or her down. Which have you been doing? How should you respond this week in situations you face? Look at the passages mentioned above and ask God to show you what you need to change in yourself.

What is Freedom?2022-10-15T09:56:57-06:00
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