Day Five: Boast in the Lord

Jeremiah 9:23-24 (NLT)- 23 This is what the Lord says: “Don’t let the wise boast in their wisdom, or the powerful boast in their power, or the rich boast in their riches. 24 But those who wish to boast should boast in this alone: that they truly know me and understand that I am the Lord who demonstrates unfailing love and who brings justice and righteousness to the earth, and that I delight in these things.  I, the Lord, have spoken!

1 Corinthians 1:30-31 (NIV)- 30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31 Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”

Today, let us remember that it is because of God that we are in Christ Jesus.  It is because He is the Lord, who demonstrates unfailing love, righteousness, and justice.  He delights in these things.  And He brought them to this world, and to our lives, through Jesus Christ.

Let’s ask God that this will be our boast, our trust, our proclamation.  Pray for the ministries that we are part of, that our meetings and our ministry to one another will be filled with this correct “boasting” in the Lord.

Let’s thank and worship God to this song – The Cross Forever Speaks (Matt Maher) (click here).

 

-BR

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Day Four: God is Faithful

1 Corinthians 1:8-9 (NIV)- He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.  God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

“…Paul isn’t talking about problems at the moment.  God called them in the past, God equips them in the present, and God will complete the whole process in the future… so the Christian must always be leaning forwards towards God’s finishing line, ‘eagerly waiting for our Lord, King Jesus to be revealed.’… That’s why it’s the central Christian badge or sign to ‘call on him,’ to pray to the father through him, to learn to love him, to know his friendship and love throughout our lives, to have his name always in our hearts and often on our lips. The early Christian word for [two or more people like that getting together] was ‘fellowship’ or ‘partnership,’ and that’s what Paul says they now enjoy:  membership in the family that has God for its faithful father and Jesus, his unique son, as its older brother.  Writing this letter… is part of the process by which God intends to take these Christians… from God’s past achievement to God’s future finishing of the job.  May God grant that it will have that effect on us, too.” [Wright, N.T.  Paul for Everyone: 1 Corinthians.  p. 4-5]

Let’s pray for our churches, particularly focusing on this message series and study, according to 1 Corinthians 1:8-9 and the hope that N.T. Wright expresses here.

-BR

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Day Three: The Message of the Cross

1 Corinthians 1:18, 23-24 (NIV)- For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God… we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.

“… When Paul came into a pagan city that prided itself on its intellectual and cultural life, and stood up to speak about Jesus of Nazareth, who had been crucified by the Romans but raised from the dead by God, and who was now Lord of the world… he knew what people would think.  This was, and is, the craziest message anybody could imagine… It was news of an executed criminal from a despised race.  Nor would the Jewish people themselves enjoy it.  As Paul knew, it was ‘scandal” to them. The Christian good news is all about God dying on a rubbish-heap at the wrong end of the Empire… It’s all about the true God confronting the world of posturing, power and prestige, and overthrowing it in order to set up his own kingdom, a kingdom in which the weak and the foolish find themselves just as welcome as the strong and the wise…” [Wright, N.T.  Paul for Everyone: 1 Corinthians.  p. 12-13]

Take a moment to marvel anew at the message of the cross, thanking God that, for us who are being saved, it is the power and wisdom of God.  Let’s also worship to this song – Your Cross Changes Everything (Matt Redman) (click here).

 

-BR

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Day Two: I always thank my God…

1 Corinthians 1:4-7 (NIV) – 4 I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. 5 For in him you have been enriched in every way—with all kinds of speech and with all knowledge— 6 God thus confirming our testimony about Christ among you. 7 Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed.

We might… learn from Paul’s opening paragraph something about the practice of giving thanks.  Even though the Corinthian church is riddled with problems, Paul offers a word of thanksgiving to God for the very community that he is setting out to correct.  Despite all present difficulties, he sees this church as the work of God in the world, and he discerns in their midst gifts for which God is to be thanked.  As Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote in Life Together: “If we do not give thanks daily for the Christian fellowship in which we have been placed… then we hinder God from letting our fellowship grow according to the measure and riches which are there for us all in Jesus Christ.” [Hays, R.  Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching: First Corinthians. P. 20]

Let’s thank God for our church and for His church universal.  Give Him thanks for the grace given in Christ Jesus.  Let’s also ask that we will live by His Spirit as we wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed.

Continue in thanksgiving with this song – Thank You Jesus (Hillsong) (click here).

-BR

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Day One: Called to be his holy people

1 Corinthians 1:1-2 (NIV) – 1 Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and our brother Sosthenes, 2 To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be his holy people, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ—their Lord and ours…

Just as Paul is called by God, so too are the Christians at Corinth.  They are called to be hagioi, “saints”… When Paul applies this language to the Corinthians, he is echoing God’s call to Israel.  This is the first of many times in the letter that Paul implicitly addresses and describes the Corinthian Christians – a predominantly Gentile group – as members of the covenant people of God, Israel.  Whatever their background, they have now been caught up into the story of God’s gracious elective purpose.  They are to serve as a covenant people, representing God’s kingdom within a world that does not know God. “Now therefore, if you obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession out of all the people.  Indeed, the whole earth is mine but you shall be for me a priestly kingdom and a holy [hagion] nation (Exodus 19:5-6a LXX). [Hays, R.  Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching: First Corinthians. P. 16]

Let’s pray for our churches according to 1 Corinthians 1:2 and Exodus 19:5-6, and declare over our lives and our church that we are His people with this song – Belong (Aaron Shust) (click here).

-BR

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Day 5: The crown for those who love him

James 1:12  Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.

“Trial” refers to any difficulty in life that may threaten our faithfulness to Christ:  physical illness, financial reversal, the death of a loved one.… James, then, uses the crown to refer to the idea of reward, [and] the word life following crown will indicate what the reward is.  Revelation 2:10.. is similar, “Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life.”[Moo, D.  The Pillar New Testament Commentary: The Letter of James. p. 70]

After going through most of our Loving Jesus Series, I am not sure what sounds more beautiful – the “crown of life” that those who endure will receive, or the description that God gives them as “those who love him.”  Of course, they are both amazing works of God’s grace.

Let’s take to heart this truth of this passage.  Let’s pray for ourselves, whether we are in a time of “trial” or not, that we will be those who persevere in loving Jesus.  Let’s pray for one another in our families, campuses, missional groups, and churches, that we will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.

-BR

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Day 4: Lord, you know all things…

John 21:17-19  The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”Jesus said, “Feed my sheep….
Then he said to him, “Follow me!”

Jesus’ threefold repetition of his question may reflect the Near Eastern custom of reiterating a matter three times before witnesses in order to convey a solemn obligation… Peter is not relieved but rather saddened that Jesus has asked him the same question a third time.  Peter’s response, “Lord, you know all things,” rather than pointing to actions of his own that prove his loyalty, defers to Jesus’ knowledge of him… Perhaps at long last Peter has learned that he cannot follow Jesus in his own strength and has realized the hollowness of affirming his own loyalty in a way that relies more on his own power of will than in Jesus’ enablement. [Kostenberger, A.  Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament:  John.  p. 597-598]

In our “yes” to Jesus, let’s rely upon Him.  We trust in Him Who, knowing all things including our greatest need, went to the cross in love.  We take the commission to feed His sheep by, and only by, following Him.

Let’s pray for our churches today, that Jesus’ sheep will be well cared for.  Let’s gladly say “yes” to following Jesus today.  We can also worship in song – May the Words of my Mouth (Tim Hughes) (click here)

-BR

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Day Three: Glad Self-Offering

Romans 12:1-2a Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.

What is precious to us?  It seems that it would be noble if the answer to that were at least another human being.  Yet it so often seems, when I get down to the core of things, that it is often: me.  I am precious to me.  When I apply Abraham’s test to my life, I do hand my children, my husband, other people and things over to the Lord in prayer.  But then I so often end up at this place – where God asks for me, all of me.

Here Paul uses a vivid, indeed shocking, idea:  One’s whole self (that’s what Paul means by ‘body’) must be laid on the altar like a sacrifice in the Temple… Christian living… begins with the glad self-offering of one’s whole self to God whose mercy has come all the way to meet us in our rebellion, sin, and death.[Wright, N.T.  Paul for Everyone: Romans Part Two. p. 70]

Let us respond to this passage with “glad self-offering” of our whole selves unto the Lord.  While doing so, we can worship God in song with Build My Life (Housefires) (click here).

-BR

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Day Two: When God Tested Abraham

Hebrews 11:17
17 By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son…19 Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death.

[Abraham] is the only exemplar mentioned in [Hebrews] 11 who is said to have been tested by God… The trial before him was the command to take Isaac [and] ‘sacrifice him…’ It was on this son’s survival that the fulfillment of God’s promises depended… Did God’s command, then, to sacrifice Isaac flatly contradict his own promise?
Surprisingly, neither the Genesis narrative nor the account in Hebrews dwells on the inner turmoil within Abraham’s heart.  In fact, the impression one gets is that Abraham regarded it as God’s problem… When the command was given, Abraham obeyed:  By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice.[O’Brien, P.  The Pillar New Testament Commentary: The Letter to the Hebrews.  p. 423-424]

I like this description of faith – “…Abraham regarded it as God’s problem.”  Abraham’s part was reverence and obedience.  What would happen, how God would reconcile two impossible seeming things, was God’s.

Today, let’s offer our lives and what is precious to us to the Lord, in reverent obedience.  Let’s do so trusting Him, knowing that the One who raised Jesus to life is able to do with our offerings what will bring Him glory.

-BR

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Day One: Proven Genuineness of Faith

1 Peter 1:6-8  … for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy…

Quite a bit of this letter is concerned with the suffering of the early Christians.  Here Peter states the theme which he will develop: that this suffering is the means by which the quality of the Christians’ faith can shine out all the more, and when Jesus is finally revealed this will result in an explosion of praise.  Meanwhile, they are to live their lives… with love for Jesus in their hearts and ‘a glorified joy (v. 8) welling up within them. [Wright, N.T.  The Early Christian Letters for Everyone. p. 51]

If we are in a current time of trial, let’s take these words of 1 Peter to heart.  I also invite us all to pray that we, together with God’s church around the world, will live our lives with love for Jesus in our hearts and joy welling up within us.

Let’s worship to One Thing Remains (Bethel Live) (click here), proclaiming His love that will keep us for the day when Jesus is revealed.

-BR

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