Archives For I Corinthians

This is a topic I revisit every so often, but probably not often enough. We need to remember the persecuted around the world. Every day while we enjoy the comforts and freedom of our lives, our brothers and sisters in Christ are facing unspeakable torture and persecution. Throughout the New Testament, Paul urged all believers to be united as one (Ephesians 4:1-16). Jesus prayed His followers would be as close as He and His Father are (John 17:21).

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To be united, to stand as one, we must continuously pray for and identify with our fellow believers around the world. Allow me to throw down a challenge to you in the form of a question: how much time are you spending in prayer for our brothers and sisters in chains?

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Over the past couple of posts (see “In the Presence of God” and “Bible Study”), I’ve been looking at some foundational aspects of following Christ. We’ve discussed prayer and Bible study, which are the linchpins in getting to know God. Today I want to wrap it up by focusing on what I see as the third, and perhaps most important, tenet in living a life wholly devoted to God: practicing obedience.

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The reason I feel this might be the most important aspect of developing your relationship with Jesus is because the other two concern learning who He is and what He’d have you to do. Practicing obedience is all about taking what you’ve learned and putting it into action.

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People are always looking to find out what God’s will is for their life. We’ve covered this in several posts before (see these posts), and the inevitable next question is, “What do I do to live out His will in my life?”. We confuse vocation with God’s will. His will is for you to look like His Son. Walk like Jesus walked, talk like Jesus talked, and love like Jesus loved; this is God’s will for your life.

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No matter what you do, if you want to be living the life you were meant to live, you’ve got to become wholly devoted to God. There are no shortcuts or quick fixes. Until you are ready to give everything over to God, you will never fulfill your potential.

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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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