Archives For I Corinthians

Jesus is love. For many of us, this goes without saying. But do we really know what it means? Recently I was reading the famous “love” passage in I Corinthians 13, and it struck me I was reading about Jesus. For years, I’ve read this passage through the lens of how to better love my wife and others. As I read this time, it suddenly occurred to me this was more than a description of what love looks like in action. It was a description of Jesus Himself.

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As the embodiment of love, I Corinthians offers us a perfect description of who Jesus is. I’m confident I’m not the first to have this revelation, but even if you’ve heard this before, take a moment to re-read the passage, substituting the word, “Jesus” every time you see the word, “love”.

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We must never forget to pray for the persecuted. The majority of readers of this blog live in areas of the world where we have at least some degree of freedom to worship God. We should always remember to be extremely thankful for this, but we must never take it for granted. In many parts of the world, to follow Jesus is to risk losing one’s friends, family, employment, housing, freedom, or even their life. It’s a reality they live with every day.

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In many countries, to choose Jesus is truly to risk everything. We who do not face such pressure can barely relate. It is imperative we move beyond simple head knowledge of persecution, and internalize it. When one part of the body suffers, we all suffer (1 Corinthians 12:26). We must never forget to pray for the persecuted.

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I had a disturbing thought recently: We are destined to lose. I’ve read the Bible and I know how this war ends. God wins. We win. But this battle we fight today? We are destined to lose. God’s will for our lives is we continue the mission of Jesus. We are to bring the Kingdom of God down to earth. It is our job to model the love of Jesus and proclaim the incredible truth of God’s character to every person we encounter.

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Unfortunately, the Bible makes it clear things will get worse before they get better. We live in dark, evil times. Many think these are the last days. We are not to the first to think this way; most generations before us believed the same for their own lifetime. The fact is, until Jesus returns, we are fighting what at least appears to be a losing battle.

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Everyone wants to make a difference. We all want to live a life of significance, to live a powerful life. Why then do so many lead lives of quiet desperation? Should Christ followers even aspire to any form of greatness or recognition? Nelson Mandela said there is no passion in playing small, in living a life less than you are capable of living.

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I think Jesus would agree. He created you with a unique blend of skills and passions to do the work He designed for you to do. He created you for a reason. If Jesus is your Lord, the very Spirit of God resides within you. How then could you not live a powerful life?

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As I was praying recently, a thought occurred to me: “I am nothing except what You are through me.” We love to pose and posture. We love to talk about our accomplishments and achievements. But the reality is nothing we do would be possible if not for God. He created us, gave us our skills and abilities, provided our wisdom, and nurtured our development.

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Not a single thing we have ever done would be possible if not for some gift of God. That doesn’t mean everything we’ve done is good or blessed, but it does mean we are all absolutely useless and weak except for the providence of our loving Creator.
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Christianity is misunderstood and misrepresented. Instead of a movement of people that act and look like Jesus, the word has been co-opted to identify people of a particular political bent who live a particular lifestyle. Christianity is not about people who claim they believe in God.  The Bible says even demons believe in God (James 2:19), and no one would ever call a demon by the name “Christian”!

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Christianity is not a list of do’s and don’ts; it is not about saying a certain prayer or attending a certain church on Sunday. Christianity is all about believing in, and replicating, the character of God. Christianity is first, foremost, and always about love.
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In a recent post (see “When All is Said and Done”) I discussed how it is vital that we live our lives with an eye toward retelling our story to Jesus. This is an important concept to grasp, because each of us will one day have to give an account of our lives to Him (Romans 14:10-12).

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With that in mind, I wanted to look at practical ways we can live to ensure we have a pleasing story to tell. This isn’t a list of “do’s and don’ts”, but rather a motivation that must invade every aspect of our lives. That motivation is love.
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What is the greatest achievement you can think of in life? If you could achieve your dreams, what would they be? How do you define success? Think of the biggest goal you can imagine. Dare to dream your biggest dream. Now think what it will feel like if we live our life in such a way that when we meet Jesus He says to us, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master” (Matthew 25:23). Wouldn’t your wildest dreams, all of your greatest achievements combined, pale in comparison to that one conversation?

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Early in my days in the corporate world, the first time I was given a position with my own office, I hung a sign over my desk that quoted Colossians 3:23. It said, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” It often comforted me when those I was working for were severely frustrating me and trying my patience! That passage helped re-center me and remind me of what was truly important. While that sign and office are long gone, the daily reminder that verse afforded me has stuck with me throughout my life. Recently as I was exercising, a similar thought, no doubt inspired by my recollection of that verse, occurred to me. That thought was to test all of my activity by whether or not it glorifies God. This is how we can do all things as working for the Lord. Everything we do must be for Him.

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I never cease to be amazed at the wisdom and relevancy of A.W. Tozer. Though he died in 1963, his writings continue to inspire and convict over fifty years later. I am convinced that the key to intimacy with God is being totally obsessed with Jesus. Until we live every moment of our lives with Him at the forefront of our thoughts, we will never discover the life He intended us to live. With that in mind, I recently read a very timely piece by Tozer. In it he said, “Only engrossment with God can maintain perpetual spiritual enthusiasm because only God can supply everlasting novelty. In God every moment is new and nothing ever gets old. Of things religious we may become tired, even prayer may weary us; but God never! … Nothing can preserve the sweet savor of our first experience except to be preoccupied with God Himself!”

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