Devotions for April 25 – May 1, 2016
1 Corinthians 13:1-13
Monday, April 25, 2016
“I’m a moist gong or a clanging cymbal” (1 Corinthians 13:1a).
Tim and Sally were enjoying a pleasant dinner at their favorite restaurant. Unfortunately their meal and conversation were interrupted by the sound of a car alarm. The honking of the car horn went on for several minutes–annoying everyone in the restaurant–until it finally stopped. Lamar and Jaylene were awakened by the barking of their neighbor’s dog. The barking continued off and on throughout the night thus preventing Lamar and Jaylene from getting a good night’s sleep.
The church at Corinthian was blessed with an abundance of spiritual gifts. Some of the Christians spoke in tongues, others displayed the gift of healing, while still others spoke prophetic words or words of wisdom. The gifts of the Spirit were misused, though.
Instead of building up the body of Christ, many people used their gifts in a vain attempt to demonstrate that they were better, more mature, more spiritual than the others. They did not use their gifts in love. Instead of being a blessing they were annoying–just like a blaring car horn or a barking dog.
The Holy Spirit blesses God’s people with an abundance of gifts. Every one of us has some gifts of the Spirit. These gifts are not proof that we are better Christians than others. Used in love the gifts are to share God’s love and grace and not be an annoyance.
Holy Spirit, thank you for your gifts. Empower us to use them in love and to expand your reign. Amen.
Tuesday, April 26, 2016
“I am nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:2).
Adam and Eve yielded to the serpent’s temptation that they could be like God. It has been a temptation for humankind throughout the ages. Wouldn’t it be nice to be like God? Just think what it would be like to be able to move mountains and to be able to understand the mysteries of the universe! No one would be able to call us “ordinary” if we had godlike powers.
Paul’s words bring us up short, though. He points out that if we had godlike powers but didn’t have love we would be “nothing”–worse than ordinary! The amazing thing about God is not God’s powers to do the supernatural. It is God’s steadfast love. God sent God’s son and God loves us so much that God will allow nothing to separate us from God’s love. As disciples of Jesus we may not be powerful people, but we are called to be loving people.
God of love, may our words and actions be reflections of your love. Amen.
Wednesday, April 27, 2016
“Love is not envious, or boastful or arrogant or rude” (1 Corinthians 13:4).
We display our self-centeredness in many ways. There are times when we envy what other people have. We think that we are more deserving of what they have than they are. At other times we build up our bruised and fragile egos by boasting that we have something that others don’t have. Being arrogant and rude lets other people know in subtle and not so subtle ways that we think we are better than they are. All are demonstrations of our self-love.
God’s love is always other orientated. Paul writes to the Philippians that Jesus didn’t consider equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself (Philippians 2:6). Jesus put others first. Throughout the gospels Jesus is seen reaching out to the marginalized, the sick and the needy. Jesus was willing to face the condemnation of those in power in order to minister to the needs of people. Envy, boasting, arrogance and rudeness were never part of Jesus’ life.
As disciples of Jesus we’re called to shift the focus of our lives off ourselves and on to others. God pours God’s love into our lives so that the love can spill over into the lives of others.
Mighty Lord, clear out the boulders of our self-love and flow through our lives to touch the lives of others. Amen.
Thursday, April 28, 2016
“[Love] bears all things” (1 Corinthians 13:7a).
Her diagnosis of breast cancer was the beginning of an arduous journey for Marjorie Brown and her family. The months that followed demanded sacrifice, support, grieving, tears, laughter and celebration for every member of the family. Though it was not an easy time for the Brown family, their journey brought them closer together because they were bound together with love. When Carlos Ramirez lost his job because of a company merger, he and his family were faced with economic hardship. Together they endured the seven months it took for Carlos to find another job because they were a family who loved each other.
Pastor Sarah’s sermons were not always inspiring, but that didn’t matter to the members of St. Marks. Pastor Sarah loved them and served the congregation faithfully, and the congregation loved her. Ken Meyer was a big man who literally and figuratively threw his weight around in order to get his way at First Church. Many people were offended by Ken’s words and actions. In love and forgiveness, leaders of the congregation along with Ken’s friends, pointed out what was happening. Bound together in love there was healing.
Love bears all things. When the going gets tough love continues. Many times love will not be easy. Frequently, we will need to be creative in our responses of love. Love prevails, though, when love is present.
Faithful Lord, enable us to be faithful and steadfast in our love for one another so that your will may be done on earth as it is in heaven. Amen.
Friday, April 29, 2016
“Love believes all things” (1 Corinthians 13;7b).
The rumor mill was spinning like a fan at St. Catherine’s. An audit had turned up a few irregularities. Rumors started to circulate that several thousands of dollars were missing. People speculated that the congregational treasurer along with the financial secretary were to blame. The flames of suspicion, judgment and anger grew so intense that the pastor decided he needed to address the issue on Sunday morning.
“We are able to choose what we want to believe,” the pastor began. “I choose to believe that we are all children of God, who are loved by God with a steadfast love–a love from which we will never be separated.” The pastor continued, “I choose to believe that people are innocent until proven guilty and that the guilty–just like all of us–can be loved and forgiven.” The pastor ended his remarks with the invitation, “I encourage you to let your love guide your beliefs.” Two weeks later the auditors determined that the irregularities were simple mistakes and no funds were missing.
Love believes the good rather than the bad about people. Love gives people the benefit of the doubt and “cuts them some slack.” Love seeks to build up and is always prepared to forgive. Our love for each other reflects God’s love for us.
Precious Lord, help us to believe the good about people rather than the bad. Amen.
Saturday, April 30, 2016
“When I became an adult I put an end to childish ways” (1 Corinthians 13:11).
Perhaps it was because of the full moon, but the “Little Angels” Pre-School class was having a bad day. The children were fighting over toys and refusing to work together. Their teacher and teachers aide tried to instruct the children to share their toys but their exhortations fell on deaf ears. The two adults gave up on group activities and decided to focus on individual craft projects. The children had a long way to go before they learned how to share and work together.
Paul wrote to the Christians at Corinth that when he was a child he acted like a child, but when he became an adult he gave up childish ways. Often we think that he was referring to superstitious beliefs and a childish lack of understanding. It is odd that Paul would jump to this topic when he had been writing eloquently about love. Paul may have been referring to the fact that as an adult and apostle of Jesus Christ he gave up the self-centered and selfish ways of childhood and adopted the loving and gracious manner of Jesus.
There are times when we fall back into childish behavior. As disciples of Jesus, though, we are called to give up our childish ways, and live to serve others instead of being served.
Lord God, turn our eyes away from ourselves and toward others so that our words and actions may be loving and gracious. Amen.
Sunday, May 1, 2016
“Faith, Hope love abide and the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13).
The Hanamachi’s were awakened in the middle of the night by the screech of the smoke alarms. Smoke was filling the house. The four of them scrambled out of their bedrooms and ran out the front door. A neighbor noticed the smoke and called the fire department. Within minutes the sound of sirens filled the night. Though the firefighters acted quickly, the house could not be saved; it was a total loss.
The Hanamachi’s had little left except for their faith. Together they huddled that night in prayer affirming that they were in the hands of the Lord and that God would take care of them. In the days that followed the Hanamachi’s hoped that their needs would be met and that the Holy Spirit would help them put their lives back together. The members of their congregation gathered around the Hanamachi’s and showed the Hanamachi’s their love by providing food, clothing and shelter for the family. During those difficult days the family’s love for each other grew stronger and gave them the courage and strength to make the difficult decisions and face the challenges with which they were confronted.
Faith and Hope are absolute necessities for facing life and living as disciples of Jesus Christ. Love, though, is what holds everything together. Love transforms situations and lives.
Generous Lord, thank you for the gifts of faith, hope and love. May they transform the lives of others as they have transformed our lives. Amen.