1 Corinthians Chapter 11–What Stands Out

As I’ve continued my devotional reading of 1 Corinthians, this is the phrase that stood out for me in Chapter 11:

“...all things are from God” 1 Corinthians 11:12b

As Martin Luther liked to put it, “this is most certainly true,” but how often do we stop to think about it? Everything we have is a gracious gift from God — our spouse, our families, our friends, our home. In addition, we owe everything we are to God. Psalm 139 tells us:

“For you (God) created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” Psalm 139:13

God gave us the abilities, the talents, and the personality that make us the person we are. Gratitude should be our overwhelming response. Even when difficult things happen, God allows them and uses them for our good and the good of others.

“And we know that for those who love God, all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28

Whatever is going on in our lives, we can be assured that God has a good purpose. He loves us, He blesses us, He uses us to bless others. It’s hard to give thanks for suffering, but this is comforting and consoling.

“For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.” 1 Timothy 4:4

For the things that are ours, we should give thanks. When troubles come, we should pray and wait to see God’s plan at work. Nothing is random. We’re in His hands. We can trust Him.

For more about God’s plan see:

Your Dream. God’s Plan. by Tiffany Smiling — Book Review

Everything According To God’s Plan & Timing

Taking Care of God’s Stuff

Growing Up, Part 3

When Terry and I joined the congregation, I didn’t have any experience at being an active, adult member. As a child, a family friend took me to church, Sunday School and Vacation Bible School. As a teenager and young adult, I attended services sporadically. Then after Terry and I got married, we decided to join a church, but basically, we just sat in the pew on Sunday morning. I thought that’s what belonging to a church was all about, but I was wrong. When we joined Peace In Christ, there were maybe 50 or 60 members, and God must have known just what I needed, because it’s hard to hide in a group that size. In fact, I was elected Recording Secretary at the first congregational meeting I attended. What a shock! I didn’t realize that in a small church agreeing to serve meant you got the job. Soon the pastor found out I liked to write and he suggested I get involved in helping with the newsletter and writing articles about the church for the local newspaper. I really enjoyed that, but I still wasn’t studying the Bible. After all, I knew all those stories from Sunday School class, and had even taken some courses about the Bible as literature in college. I didn’t think I needed any more.

Life has a way of moving along and changing, though, and pretty soon our first child was born. Before I knew it, she was two years old, and the nice people at church were asking if she could stay for Sunday School. Of course, that meant that Terry and I joined the adult class–what else was there to do for that hour? There I got another surprise–I discovered that the Bible is more than history or literature, it’s a guide for living life. In 1 Timothy 3:16-17 we read:

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

I got to know other Christians — the ones in the Bible, and the ones in class–most of whom were more mature in the faith than I was at the time. I saw how, despite their flaws and mistakes they had a living faith–vibrant and growing. Here were people who prayed before making a decision–I had never done that. They loved and served some of the most unlovable people. They had a purpose in life. I admired them and I began to want to be more like them.

Stay tuned for more tomorrow …..

For more posts about Bible study see:

The Greatest Bible Study

Study Resources for Ladies

A Prayer Before Study

Words Count

I just finished a library book recently that was classified as “young adult” fiction. The main characters were teenagers, and the plot revolved around a murder and the efforts of these young people to find out who killed their friend. It was engaging and well written except for one glaring problem — some of the words were, in my mind, unacceptable. Why would such crude speech be used in a book aimed at young people? In fact, why is it okay to use such words at all? What message is being sent? The Bible tells us:

“Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.” Ephesians 4:7

I’m not a prude and I’m not unrealistic. I know sometimes certain words fly out in anger, in pain, and so on. That doesn’t make it right, but it happens. However, I object to the normalization of this kind of language. Our speech matters. The words we use affect others and should be chosen judiciously. When we speak, we’re setting an example. If the books we read, the movies and television shows we watch, and the people we respect use bad language, soon everyone will.

In the same way, when we avoid cursing and bad words, people notice. My husband and I have both seen the language of a workplace be transformed by one person refusing to join in to such talk. Soon others become ashamed, and even apologize for those words. So be a good example — watch your words! As Paul says in his letter to his spiritual son, Timothy:

Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” 1 Timothy 4:12

Filled With the Spirit or Full of the Spirit?

In our most recent class on the Holy Spirit, we learned that there is a distinction between being filled with the Spirit and being full of the Spirit.

The Bible tells us that all believers are indwelt by the Holy Spirit.  For example, Paul tells the Corinthians:

“Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? “1 Corinthians 3:16
He also reminds Timothy:
“Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure that has been entrusted to you.”  1 Timothy 1:14
If you are a Christian, you have been filled with the Spirit, who is with you at all times, to guide, enlighten and comfort.  However, there are also times when the Holy Spirit fills us in a temporary way in order to fulfill a particular task.  This occurs in both the Old and New Testament.
One example is when Samuel anoints David as king:
Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward.” 1 Samuel 16:13-14
Another is when Mary is told by the Angel Gabriel, that she will bear God’s Son:
“The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.” Luke 1:35
When Peter gave his famous sermon in chapter 4 of Acts, he was “filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 4:8).  In 2 Peter, chapter 1 we are told that all the prophets were “carried along by the Holy Spirit.”  Of course, Jesus Himself was filled by the Holy Spirit at His baptism. (Luke 3:22), when he begins His public ministry.
Maybe you, too, have felt this filling of the Spirit when you were called to take on a task or project that seemed beyond your abilities.  The Spirit is always with us.  He will guide us, enlighten us and empower us to do the things God calls us to do.

 

 

The Leadership Formula by Juan Sanchez–Book Review

The first thing you need to understand about this book, is the author’s primary focus: pastoral leadership.  In his denomination (Baptist), this also includes elders, some of whom (vocational pastors) will eventually pursue fulltime ministry at other churches, and others (non-vocational pastors) who provide for themselves through secular careers while also helping to shepherd their local congregation.  He also holds the position that only men should fill these offices.  As I am unfamiliar with his church polity, it took time for me to grasp some of his points.

In any case, Pastor Sanchez relies heavily on 1 Timothy, Titus and 1 Peter to establish the qualifications for pastor/elder (terms that are used interchangeably).  These men should:

  • Exhibit godly character
  • Maintain biblical convictions
  • Lovingly care for the congregation
  • Display competency in handling the Bible

Once such men are identified, their leadership potential must be observed and developed over a sufficient period of time to establish credibility with the congregation.  This is a very important point.  It takes time for true character to be revealed, and it is better to proceed slowly than end up with leaders who are not qualified or lack self-control.  He also stresses the need for continual learning in leaders.  They should be constantly studying the Bible, theology and other Christian resources.

Each of the leadership components is discussed fully in its’ own chapter.  The book also reviews the foundation for leadership as set forth in Genesis.  Briefly, humans were created by God to represent His sovereign rule and loving care over creation.  While equal bearers of God’s image, Adam and Eve were given different roles:  Adam is to lead, Eve is his suitable and complementary follower.  Sin, of course corrupts this divine pattern when Adam fails to take responsibility and Eve manipulates.  The curse now affects both sexes as they battle to control one another.  This leads to leadership which is either too passive, or too tyrannical.

There are two chapters at the end that do discuss leadership in the home and leadership in the world. These are applicable to all Christians. Some Appendices with various documents and questionnaires used at the author’s own church are included.  These define and further elaborate the various pastoral offices at High Pointe Baptist Church.

VERDICT:  2 STARS.  The important characteristics of a leader were well supported and biblically based. However Lutherans will find most application suggestions not feasible because of the differences in denominational organization.

If you would like to purchase this book follow the link below:

https://www.lifeway.com/en/product/the-leadership-formula-P005819502

The Lutheran Ladies received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.  Disclaimer pursuant to FTC 16 CFR part 255.

For more on leadership see these posts:

Fanning the Flame #20 –The Leadership Dynamic

Luther on Leadership edited by David D. Cook—Book Review

Servant Leadership

 

 

 

 

Quiet and Peaceable Lives

Almost every Sunday in church, we pray for the leaders or our country, in the hope that their work will enable us to “live quiet and peaceable lives.” Isn’t that what most of us desire above all else? The thought comes directly from these verses in 1 Timothy:

urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people- for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 1 Timothy 1:1-2

I’ve been reading and watching a good bit of historical fiction these days, and it has made me realize how fortunate we are in our country these days.  Most of us alive today have not experienced the day-to-day chaos of war.  We’ve never had to flee our homeland to escape persecution;  we’ve never been occupied by a foreign power;  we’ve not had to make hard choices about whether to resist or support an oppressor.  We don’t need to fear being taken off to a concentration camp, or worry about where our next meal is coming from.  This is a blessing!

When I think about true peace and serenity, the first thing to come to my mind is the Shepherd’s Psalm, number 23.

 

“The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters,
 he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley ,I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
  You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
  Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
Even if we ever do experience the worst, our Shepherd is with us.  He will provide for us that which is truly needful;  He will keep our soul safe.  Not even war or death can remove our peace in Him.  This is an even greater blessing.  Thanks be to God!
For more on Psalm 23, visit this post:

 

The Gift of Shepherding

Normally we think of “shepherding” as the responsibility of the Pastor.  However, anyone can have this spiritual gift. When I discovered that this was one of my gifts I understood why I enjoy leading small groups and being the spiritual gifts coordinator for our congregation.  Here is some information about this gift from my Fanning the Flame material.

Literal Meaning: To shepherd a flock

Description: The gift of shepherding is the special ability that God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ to assume a long-term personal responsibility for the spiritual welfare of a group of believers.

Distinctives:

  • Take responsibility to nurture the whole person in their walk with God
  • Provide guidance and oversight to a group of God’s people
  • Model with their life what it means to be a fully devoted follower of
  • Jesus Christ
  • Establish trust, loyalty, and confidence through long-term relationships
  • Lead and protect those within their span of care

People with the gift of shepherding have the following traits:

  • Influencing
  • Nurturing
  • Guiding
  • Discipling
  •  Protecting
  • Supportive
  • Relational

If you have this spiritual gift you might use it as a small group facilitator, Sunday School or Confirmation class teacher;  leader of a program for New Members of Discipleship training.

For references to this gift see: Ephesians 4:11;  1 Thessalonians 5:12 or 1 Timothy 3:1-7

For other posts on spiritual gifts see:

The Spiritual Gift of Leadership

The Spiritual Gift of Service

What are the Spiritual Gifts?

 

The Greatest Teacher

Image result for teach me your ways imageGod, of course, is the greatest teacher of all.  He teaches us through His creation:

“Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made. ” Romans 1:20

He teaches us through His word:

“All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”  1 Timothy 3:16

He taught through the prophets:

“In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets;” Hebrews 1:1

Most of all, He teaches us through Jesus:

“but in these last days He has spoken to us by a Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He created the world.” Hebrews 1:2

Before Jesus made Himself known as the Son of God, he was revered as a teacher.  He taught through sermons and parables, but most of all He taught by His example:

“If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.  For I have given you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.”  John 13: 13-15

How has God been teaching you?  Readers and authors, I would like to hear about your learning experiences with God.  He loves you and so do I!