One Body, One Lord

OneBodyOneLord

A lot of thoughts are swirling around in my head right now, from my devotions in 1 Corinthians 12 and 13; and trying to link to a couple of Stu’s posts from Oct 6th and 7th. Something God is explaining to me, something I’m trying to grasp.

1 Corinthians 12 is about the gifts God gives us (teaching, healing, prophesying, etc.) and about how they all work together in the Body of Christ; and 1 Corinthians 13 is The Love Chapter.

1 Cor 12.4-7 Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.

On Oct 6th, Stu’s daily verse was from Gen 1.27: So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

And my reply was, “Can you imagine- all the billions and gazillions of people ever created (note created vs ‘born’) and ALL in God’s image? He has so many facets, He is infinite!”

Jesus is God, and He is infinite. Also, we are created in His image. He works in/through all of us. Think of all the people who have ever been created, and all the gifts God designed into them; all working together as His body. In His timing, we meet up with one another, either face-to-face or through others, or reading/writing books, or radio / television, or online or whatever – we connect. God drops bits of Himself and His wisdom / Word / love through each of us unto others. We all work together for His glory!

Romans 8.28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

I think we can also all know that all things work together for Him, for His glory. It is to the good to those who love God; and to the not-so-good to those who do not love Him. All to His glory. Isaiah 48.11b I will not give my glory unto another.

And one of His miracles is that He works this, His glory, through US! So, whether we feel like it or not, whether we think we’re doing any good at all or not, whether we are obedient or not, God WILL get the glory.

Stu’s verse on Oct 7 was Colossians 3:12 NIV Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

My reply: “Even when there is turmoil and sadness inside, we can clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. We can put on Christ (Gal 3.27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.). Sometimes it feels like a front; sometimes it feels like a blanket. But it is always right.”

Here’s where 1 Corinthians 13 comes in. God is love. Whatever we think we know about love, we have to toss it if it isn’t God. Our love is not love. 1 John 4.10a Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us. 1 Corinthians 13 lays out some of the acts that we can do, some of the impetus that drives us; but if it’s not God / agape / love, then it is clanging, nothing, dismissed, ceasing, restrained, passing away.

Even when we don’t feel like it, we can still show God’s love. We can put on Christ (think avatar or actor), and the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (Philippians 4.7).

God always blesses obedience. When we obey, even stiff-necked obedience, God blesses us. If we are disobedient, God will use someone else. But we will miss the blessing.

Be a willing, active part of the body of Christ.

Every Perfect Gift (Part 2 of 2)

EveryPerfectGift*

{Part 1 click here}

Luke’s thoughts drifted to several times when he’d really bungled it, and he groaned.  “Please, Lord, just direct me.  I need you.  Amen.”

The next night was their date night.  Once a week, Luke and Tess made sure to clear their schedules of all else, to devote time to one another.  Whatever they did together, and however things panned out, they’d made a pact to always close in prayer before they went their separate ways for the night.  Luke and Tess had both confessed that they were glad they’d made the pact during the pink-and-rosy times, because there had sure been times they could have parted differently, and there had been some few prayers muttered between clenched teeth.  Tonight, however, both were really glad to see each other, and their eyes shone.

They were meeting at Tess’ apartment, and she’d prepared a simple dinner for them.  They chatted as they ate, about nothing in particular, and there was just a little spraying of water and snapping of towels as they washed the dishes up.

“Let’s go for a walk,” Luke suggested, as he held his hand out to her.  Tess searched his eyes, and shyly took it.  Luke wondered if she knew something was up, too.

They strolled to their favorite park in the evening twilight.  Luke escorted her to a bench, sat next to her, took her hands, and looked at her.  He saw a hard swallow as she looked down.

“Tess,” he began, “you know I love you.  You know I love the Lord more than I love you, and I know the same about you.  We both know where we’ve each come from; some of it ain’t pretty, but God has meant it for good, to bring us together.”  He paused, not knowing where to go, searching for words.  Tess looked up at him.  Now he looked down, and let go her hands.  “Tess, we’ve talked about marriage before, and I’ve never sensed that you’re sure, that it’s what you really want.  I don’t want to push you into anything, and I don’t want you running away, but I just feel that I have to say something.”

He looked again at Tess.  She swallowed again, but was silent.  Dared he think her eyes reflected hope?

“Okay,” he started again.  “I had this idea.”  He reached into his shirt pocket.  “I brought my lucky coin.”  He locked eyes with her.

“Heads we get married, tails we break up.”

Tess looked at the coin, looked at Luke, and smiled.  It was a great, huge, joyful smile.  She knew that coin, that old Roman coin, Luke’s lucky silver coin from his father.  The one with the head of Zeus on one side, and the head of Jupiter on the other.  “Go for it!” she said.

Epilogue

Luke and Tess were again seated on their favorite park bench.  Luke reached into his shirt pocket.

“Remember that lucky coin?” he asked.

Tess smiled and nodded.

“It’s in this little box.” he said, and opened it.  Inside was an exquisite ring, detailed with diamond and ruby.

“We believe in one God, the Father Almighty,” he went on: “not in luck or false gods.  I had that coin melted down, and now it symbolizes the unbroken circle of our love.  Proverbs 31 asks, ‘Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.’  Tess, you are far above rubies, but I hope this symbolizes the infinite value I place upon you.”  He took her hand, and slid the ring onto her finger.  “And the diamond, well, …”

Tess beheld her beloved through mizzled eyes.  “This diamond is forever,” she finished, “and I will wear it forever, as my pledge of love and respect for you.”

*photo from http://www.alamy.com/

Every Perfect Gift (Part 1 of 2)

EveryPerfectGift*

James1.17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

Luke turned back to that verse again.  James, chapter one, had been the topic in their Bible Study group last night, and verse 17 had jumped out at him.  His thoughts had gone immediately to Tess, and he’d looked over at her, wondering if she had sensed it, too.  Not evidently.

Now he was prepping for their next Bible study already.  They only met once a week, but God was tapping him on the shoulder.  In Chapter two, it happened again: For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it.  Luke knew that: he’d known Jesus as his Savior for ten years now, and had jumped into God’s Word with both feet, no turning back.  Today, though, he was seeing this verse with a new perspective.  He was thinking of Tess, and he was pretty sure God had brought his thoughts there.  To know what to do, and not do it – that would be to dishonor God.

Luke and Tess had met as sophomores in a study group – Shakespeare, of all things.  She’d helped him limp through that one, and, although from almost antithetical backgrounds, they’d found in each other kindred spirits.  They shared all kinds of interests, from sports (he had a pretty good batting average and she had a mean hook shot) to coins (both their fathers had had coin collections).  From friendship had come deeper feelings.  Now, both in their last semesters, they had tailored their classes and activities to spend as much time together as possible.  Luke had known for the past year that Tess was The One; had known with all his heart, without a doubt.  He’d prayed about it often, and it was during times like right now, when he was talking with God, that he knew it the hardest.

Tess was skittish, though.  Luke could understand that.  She’d had a rough time of it in her home, growing up with alcoholism and divorce and death.  Luke was excited at the joy and peace he saw in her as she grew in her faith.  They’d talked about marriage several times, of course.  At first, just skirting the perimeters, dabbling, speaking in the most general of terms.  More recently, conversations had turned much more personal, and timelines had been touched upon.  Tess still seemed evasive and nervous.

Luke knew God must be working in her heart, just like God was working in his.  When he thought of asking Tess to marry him, his heart jumped, and he had that sharp feeling in his gut that he always got when he knew it was God.  Was it time?  Now?

Luke folded his hands over his Bible, and bowed his head.  “Lord, I think You’re telling me that it’s time to ask Tess.  You know my heart, and you know how much I want it – I think You put that desire in me.  I’m praying, Lord, that You are also working in Tess, and that this is Your perfect timing.  If it isn’t, if I’m reading You wrong, please let me know.  I don’t want to do something really stupid.  ‘Cause You know I do that.”  Luke’s thoughts drifted to several times when he’d really bungled it, and he groaned.  “Please, Lord, just direct me.  I need you.  Amen.”

The next night was their date night.

To be continued…

*photo from http://www.alamy.com/

Blessings of Obedience and the Resurrection

BlessingsOfObedienceAndTheResurrection

After Jesus was crucified, the women noted where He was laid to rest (Luke 23.55), then went home and prepared spices and ointments; but they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment (Luke 23.56).

These were Jewish women, likely able to trace their lineage back centuries to their original tribe, just like any other orthodox Jew. Their ancestors had received The Law straight from Moses / straight from God, and their adherence to it was the basis of their relationship to God Himself.

And so, in obedience, they waited until after the Sabbath was over. That begins a chapter in each of the gospels: Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, and John 20. Unsuspecting, they had a discussion along the way of how they could get that stone rolled away from the tomb. They likely thought the guards would let them in to anoint Him, seeing as how they were women and unable to steal the body.

None of their recorded discussion centered around “What if the body isn’t there?”.

They were astounded and nonplussed to find 1) the stone rolled away, 2) no body in the tomb, and 3) an angel telling them that “He is not here: for he is risen, as he said.”

Because of their devotion and obedience, they received the astounding blessing of being the first to discover that Jesus had, indeed, arisen. These women were entrusted with the directive to go and tell the others.

These Jewish women may not have felt the least inclination to break the Sabbath and anoint Jesus’ body the day after He died. They were firmly entrenched in The Law and Tradition, and they simply never broke the Sabbath, out of habit if nothing else.

For those of us outside orthodox religion, we might consider other circumstances: Jesus had just been crucified in an untimely, cruel, and unjust manner. Did they not feel a tug at their hearts that, just this once, it was okay to anoint His body, even though it was the Sabbath? That surely God would give them leniency, given that this man had claimed to be the very Son of God? Did they not love Him so much that they were drawn to be that near to Him? We can, in our minds, rationalize a whole host of really great “reasons” to do what is right in our eyes.

What if they had not been obedient? What would they have found at the tomb? The stone with its seal would still have been there. The guards posted by Pilate and the Pharisees would still have been there. They would not have been able to enter. Even if they had been able, they would have found and anointed a dead body.

But they were obedient. They put aside whatever feelings or logic they may have had otherwise, and they obeyed God’s fourth commandment of the Ten.

Obedience works just the same now-a-days as it did back then. Obey out of habit, stiff-necked obedience, obey out of love, obey because of fear of man: no matter, as long as it is GOD you are obeying.

You just never know what blessings will follow obedience.

Aaron Stretched: Lessons on Obedience and Humility

Ex 7. 20 Moses and Aaron did just as the LORD had commanded; in the presence of Pharaoh and his officials, Aaron raised the staff and struck the water of the Nile, and all the water was turned to blood.

Ex 8.6 So Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt, and the frogs came up and covered the land of Egypt.

Ex 8.17 This they did, and when Aaron stretched out his hand with his staff and struck the dust of the earth, gnats came upon man and beast. All the dust of the earth turned into gnats throughout the land of Egypt.

We don’t know if Aaron saw a burning bush or heard an audible voice, as his brother, Moses, did; but Aaron obeyed the direction of God and joined Moses in leading the Exodus of God’s people from Egypt. Their first job was to show the power of God to Pharaoh. Aaron seemed to understand his position as a mouthpiece, a task which the brothers seemed to share, off and on. Aaron also got to share the raising and striking of hand and rod to produce powerful results.

Did Aaron always fully understand that the power behind these miracles was always, 100% God’s? Well, he did get pretty carried away when he made the golden calf while Moses was on the mountain. However, he also understood the value of humility. He and Moses perfected the art of falling on their faces before a righteous and terrible Almighty God (Numbers ch’s 14, 16, 20) on behalf of their people.

Aaron is an excellent example to us of the value of humble obedience. God told Moses to tell Aaron to stretch out his rod or hand over the river, over the waters, over the dust. Aaron simply obeyed, then stood back to witness God’s power and plan. He took part in and witnessed all the miracle plagues, and how God saved His people from them. He witnessed the parting of the Red Sea. He pleaded with God and witnessed God’s provision for a stiff-necked people.

Aaron obeyed. Aaron OBEYED. And look what he got to see! And do! He was not perfect, but he knew how to be a humble servant of his God. We can learn much from him.

Ruth’s Obedience

I listened to a sermon about Ruth yesterday. The pastor pointed out that Ruth gleaned from the fields of Boaz and that, even though Ruth was content with living off the “left-overs,” God had so much more for her; and, so much more for us.

Even though the pastor focused on Ruth’s kindness, I have always been drawn to the picture of obedience that Ruth paints. She did all that her mother-in-law, Naomi, directed her to do. The basis for her obedience seems to be her commitment to her mother-in-law (Ruth 1.16-18), which I believe was given to her from God.

It was Ruth’s initiative to glean from the fields, and she “happened” to choose the field of Boaz. Naomi was excited to learn (and recognized immediately that it was God’s Hand) that Boaz had shown kindness to Ruth, as Boaz was a near kinsman, able to redeem Ruth (and, by extension, Naomi). Boaz had, indeed, singled out Ruth to extend his kindness to protecting her, feeding her, and heaping upon her that for which she worked.

Note that Boaz, also, exhibited obedience to God in that he followed God’s ordinance to harvest his fields but leave what was left for the gleaners. If he had not been obedient, if he’d been one to hoard it all for himself, he would not have met Ruth.

The height of Ruth’s obedience came when Naomi directed her to, at night, find where Boaz was lying, uncover his feet, and lie there. What would happen next? Naomi told Ruth that he would tell her what to do. Ruth’s reply to her was simply, “All that thou sayest unto me I will do.”

In her shoes, I might have argued. Whaaat? Lie down next to a man I hardly know, and he will tell me what to do? What if he laughs at me? Scorns me? Ignores me? Throws me out? Gets embarrassed and asks me quietly to leave?

But Ruth obeyed. God blessed her obedience.

{God always blesses obedience.}

So I played, “What if…”

What if Ruth had not been so obedient? What if she decided she wasn’t worthy to try to grab the attention of such a distinguished and popularly honored fellow?

Don’t we all sometimes disobey because we think we’re not worth it? Because we’re less than others? That we don’t deserve such kind treatment? We haven’t earned the right for others to think highly of us?

That we don’t deserve to be loved like that.

God created us, and He decided that WE DESERVE TO BE LOVED LIKE THAT. That’s what He created us FOR!

Look at the blessings and honor He showered upon Ruth: She’s a direct kinsman to King David and to Jesus Christ Himself!

It is the epitome of egotism, pride and puffed-up self to think that our opinion of ourselves is more valid than God’s opinion of us.

Read in God’s Word what He thinks of you. (See my post, A Love Letter to You.) Act in obedience to Him. See what amazing blessings He desires to shower upon you, His beloved child.