Category: Devotionals

Read 1 Corinthians 1 & 2

Key Verse: 1 Corinthians 2;9 “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”

“Pie in the sky when you die by and by.” That’s how the Christian hope is cynically described by those who have a low view of heaven. It’s easy, of course to make fun of adults who hope for a glorious future with God, just as it’s easy to make light of adults who believe in leprechauns or any other mythology. Why? Because heaven is not available to the senses. And in a world where the empirical is king, any hope-defying scientific verification is seen as foolishness.

Paul says, “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.” (1:18). Those who embrace the hope are those who believe the Messenger, and who is He? Later, Paul says, “The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned” (2:14). The Messenger is the Spirit: God Himself. The hope has God as its initiator. So heaven has meaning only to those who have heard from heaven.

So what kind of mind is open to talk of heaven? The Christian mind — “we have the mind of Christ” (2:16b). It’s a mind that embraces the realities of heaven, hell, God in the flesh, resurrection, sin, and salvation. A mind that accepts dependence rather than seeking independence. Yet, even in its childlike dependence, it soars mentally and loves practically, It stretches out to the far horizon and cares for the beggars at the door. It joins an orchestra of fools and plays the rocketing music of eternity. It is deep responding to the call of Deep.

Read Romans 16

Key Verse: Romans 16:22 “I, Tertius, who wrote this epistle, greet you in the Lord.”

Tertius? Who’s he? And Lucius, Jason, Sosipater, Gaius, Erastus, Quartus? Who are these people?

Lucius, Jason, and Sosipater were relatives of Paul. Erastus was head of Rome’s public work department. Gaius was a local church member with the gift of hospitality. Quartus was simply a “brother” in the Lord. And Tertius? He was Paul’s secretary, the man who took dictation as Paul wrote this letter to the Romans.

But they’re all “unknowns” as far as we’re concerned. Paul, we know. Peter, we know. But Tertius? We tend to give these lesser lights short shrift.

Obviously we’re wrong. You and I are lesser lights; Who’s ever heard of us? In the light of history we’re not only unknowns, we hardly even exist. Does that make us unimportant?

Have you ever seen your liver? or your kidneys? Not likely! All you ever see of yourself is your outer appearance: Your skin, face, torso, arms, and legs. Does that make your skeleton and organs unimportant?

The bible refers to the Pauls, the Peters, and the Sosipaters as the “body of Christ”. Jesus is the head, we’re the body; He commands, we obey. Yet our role, behind the scenes though it may be, is vital.

There would be no Christian history if there weren’t a you and a me. We’re part of the story, part of the plan. And The message of Christ’s life and love would have no meaning whatsoever if it weren’t heard and acted upon by real people, big and little. Jesus came because He loved us: Us — you and me — the “unknowns” who make Him known.

Read Romans 15

Key Verse: Romans 15:4 “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.

” Do you enjoy reading the Bible?” someone asked me recently. “Sometimes, yes. Other times, no.” I answered. “Why the fluctuation?” he questioned. ” Because the Bible is a teacher, and I don’t always like to be taught,” I said. “Why?” he asked. “I guess it’s because teaching always includes challenge to change. And sometimes I want to stay just the way I am. Or at least I’d rather not put out the energy that transformative demands.” Maybe I just should have referred my friend to today’s key verse — it says it all.

The bible was written “for our learning”. It’s a teacher. It records history, “things written before…”, and it expects to be taken seriously. It tells it like it was, and in this honest presentation of the past, it implies that the response of the reader should be just as honest in the present. What’s more, it assumes we’ll learn today from yesterday’s lessons. This, of course, is not always the case.

The Bible encourages us to be patient. To take life a day at a time in light of the ultimate “Day” when we’ll stand before our Maker. It recognizes the ups and downs of daily living but challenges us in the midst of the immediate to dream of the imminent — Jesus is coming again. The kingdom will be established. Take heart! Have hope! Our present sufferings are only for a moment. Nor can they be compared to the glories the await us!

Little wonder the Bible is the best-seller of all time. It is magnificent literature, trustworthy history, and, most of all, a record of God’s revelation to mankind. It’s a word about the Word — Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.

Read Romans 14

Key Verse: Romans 14:10 “But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgement seat of Christ.”

Paul begins this chapter with, “Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters” (v.1). He’s face to face here with the cultural, sub-cultural, and religious sensibilities of a rich mosaic of backgrounds in the early church. Some were strictly observant Jews, others were secular Jews, and still others were Gentiles newly won from paganism and emperor-worship. You can be sure there was a clash of traditions on several levels. You can also be sure the the feelings were strong!

The Apostle puts it all in perspective: “we will all stand before God’s judgment seat”. At that moment of major judgments, all our minor, trivial judgments on earth will seem comical if not tragic.

We’re to put tolerance before dogma. We’re to put ourselves into the other guy’s shoes. We’re to understand and be compassionate. This posture sits far better with our heavenly Judge that intolerance and bigotry.

There’s another point. As convinced as we may be of some secondary truth (as contrasted to primary truths like the unity of God, or the deity of Christ, etc.), we’re to keep our conviction to ourselves if it will be misunderstood by another believer. Or, at least, limit your freedom to those moments when the “weaker” brother will not be exposed to your “flagrant”” behavior.

And don’t be smug or uncritical about your liberty “Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves” (v.22b). As we mature in Christ, we should always take stock of our standards and submit them to the ultimate standard: the standard of love.