Posted on March 31, 2017
So with yourselves; since you are eager for spiritual gifts, strive to excel in them for building up the church.
- I Corinthians 14:12
By all means try to grow and acquire new gifts but always with this purpose in mind. Our gifts are from God through us to allow us to better serve God’s family. It is an obvious but not always fully accepted truth. The personal satisfaction of a gift, which is real, is only part of why we have it. It is to be shared.
May we ask for the wisdom to see how to live this challenge Paul offers.
Posted on March 30, 2017
But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them as he chose.
- I Corinthians 12:18
Practical Paul offers his homely but brilliant idea for seeing who we are, individual members of a body, only alive and functioning as part of that whole, but keenly aware that unless we all work in harmony, the entire body suffers. No part, however insignificant we might judge it, is without its place and role.
Give yourself time to see the fullness of this image, even if you think you understand it. Pray for the grace to be the member you alone are called to be.
Posted on March 29, 2017
To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.
- I Corinthians 12:7
Paul is plumbing the depths of our not being identical carbon copies. There is a reason why God has distributed variety across the human family and it is for the greater good. While we might call it the “common” good, it draws us to welcome the others who share our workplace, our neighborhood, our church family. They have needs as real as ours and no one of us has all the answers.
Our prayer deepens as we ask God for the grace to make our hearts wider and more open to others.
Posted on March 28, 2017
Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone.
- Corinthians 12:4
Our encouragement and our dissatisfaction can find their basis in this wise verse. We love it that we are not all expected to do or be the same. At the same time our very human jealousy comes to the fore. Why is she so good at that and I am not? Why does he manage to do what I cannot even attempt? We can each enlarge the list, but we all have one. Today is our day to wrestle with the reality of human uniqueness, to celebrate it and not be jealous of the other.
May we pray for the courage to welcome diversity in the community.
Posted on March 27, 2017
… he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure.
- I Corinthians 10:13
Paul well knew the sufferings and struggles that come with discipleship in a less than perfect world. He never gloried in all that he had endured, but rather took note of the goodness of God in helping him get up to face each day’s challenges.
Let us pray for the grace of daily fidelity despite difficulties.
Posted on March 26, 2017
Think of us in this way, as servants of Christ and stewards of God’s mysteries.
- I Corinthians 4:1
What an interesting way to define discipleship: a member of Christ’s household and the trustee, the manager, of his wealth. On deeper reflection, it is perfectly accurate since all that we are and all that we are striving to become is not anything we produced of and for self. It is the work of God’s grace in our lives.
Let us give careful, prayerful thought today to all that is entailed in managing the gifts of God.
Posted on March 25, 2017
Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?
- I Corinthians 3:16
This is what we are erecting, not a lowly hut but a dwelling place for God himself. The goal Paul sets before us carries within two values to consider: ours, as a place where God will find a home, and that of those among whom we live and work. These latter, whether they are conscious of it or not, are also God’s dwelling place and so are to be respected.
Let us consider this powerful basis for mutual respect and resolve to act on it today.
Posted on March 24, 2017
According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building on it.
- I Corinthians 3:10
Paul, a product of the cities, does not use images from nature to explain discipleship, but he turns to building concepts. Something has to keep growing within us or there is stagnation. There is little value or beauty in a half finished project. We will never be complete disciples, resting on our laurels. There is always more to do.
In our prayer this day let us gather the strength to move ahead with our personal work of becoming disciples.
Posted on March 23, 2017
For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
- I Corinthians 1:18
There is the paradox of the cross for the first century world. It is the instrument of capital punishment visible everywhere along public roads, and it is the sign that we are loved beyond death to the Christian. It is hard for us to realize what courage it took for the first Christians to tell the story of the cross to those who would follow them into discipleship. They must have seemed as fools to many who turned away.
In our prayer let us ask ourselves what that cross means to us today.
Posted on March 22, 2017
We who are strong ought to put up with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves.
- Romans 15:1
Paul knows that no human group is without its flaws, so he doesn’t expect his communities to be perfect. He rather expects them to be welcoming and hospitable, encouraging to the weak, but not some kind of personal cliques built around his popularity. If the weak have come, it is to make their voyage of discovery one where they learn about real discipleship.
In prayer let us ask for the grace to be about what is true for any group to which you belong.
Posted on March 21, 2017
Let us then pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.
- Romans 14:19
Paul puts mutual peace in a lovely light here. It is for no personal gain, but for the good of the community as a group. He is obviously interested in quelling those disagreements which no one wins, not even the apparent victors.
Let us hear Paul and work as he directs. Our prayer is for courage to do this.
Posted on March 20, 2017
Welcome those who are weak in faith, but not for the purpose of quarreling over opinions.
- Romans 14
Religious quarrels have stained the story of the Christian faith over the centuries and no one is ever drawn to faith by being the winner in an exchange of bitter words. Kindness is more disarming and opens more minds than clever dialogue. Do not mistake this for weakness. It is often a sign of great strength.
May we ask the grace for our whole demeanor to welcome the one who is different.
Posted on March 19, 2017
Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor.
- Romans 12:9
There is a little program for the week ahead. The essence of the Christian community is there as Paul illustrates what he thinks real love is. It is in one sense a restatement of the Golden Rule as it pinpoints what we should offer each other.
In prayer consider how to best approach living this verse today.
Posted on March 18, 2017
The word is near you, on your lips and in your heart.
- Romans 10:8
What an interesting thought Paul has here. If the heart, biblically, is the seat of knowing, then Paul wants us to grasp the idea that what we say has to come from what we know. As disciples, we have the duty to share that knowledge, to let others know that God’s gift is available to all, in and through us.
This duty needs to be weighed in prayer. My spiritual journey is not just a private one, but it touches those whom I meet.
Posted on March 17, 2017
God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.
- Romans 5:5
We often miss the key word in this verse; it is “poured”. God’s grace is not doled out drop by drop, or weighed according to our merits. It flows from his superabundance, from his generosity. If we truly believed this, what a difference it could make.
Let us reflect on “poured” as a sign of how God wants to be generous to us, if we would only open our hearts.
Posted on March 16, 2017
For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do.
- Romans 7:19
This confession of Paul is classic, isn’t it? We have all made good resolutions, perhaps like those with which we began this Lent, and then vice rears its ugly head and we fail. It is no reason to give up. Rather it should be a spur to carry on since we obviously have work still to do.
Let us pray for the courage to keep the good in focus, even if we haven’t yet succeeded.
Posted on March 15, 2017
Therefore, you have no excuse, whoever you are, when you judge others; for in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself.
- Romans 2:1
We can all blush at his command since we are all guilty. It is so easy to see what that other has done that is not quite acceptable. We do this even as we excuse ourselves. After all, we say, we are only human. And so are they! We all have so far to go in this respect.
In prayer let us ask for the courage to begin by being conscious of judging others, just for today. Then renew it, so that it becomes a habit.
Posted on March 14, 2017
And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life?
- Matthew 6:27
No, but we do it anyway! It is those 2:00am ruminations that are the most futile. It is then that we should practice giving our concerns to God in prayer and leaving them there. We somehow feel that God needs us to keep picking at the issue lest he forget.
If we are “worrywarts” we need to ask God to give us the grace of trust, of a faith that believes God is at work even if we don’t feel or hear him.
Posted on March 13, 2017
When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases…
- Matthew 6:7
We so often worry about having the right words for our prayers, but that is really futile. God wants our presence, not long-winded and carefully formulated phrases. If it is in your heart then say it. Your prayers are not being graded, but rather heard. Be simple, direct and sincere. That is real prayer.
This day let us be as clear and honest as we can as we ask for God’s help to live more intimately with him.
Posted on March 12, 2017
If God is for us, who can be against us?
- Romans 8:31
Paul, betrayed by his own people, rejected by many, imprisoned and beaten and shipwrecked, could still confidently proclaim his faith. We shrink before such courage and realize our own faith often needs a boost. Paul is absolutely right in his hope. Popular opinion means nothing without God’s being of the same mind.
Let us ask for the courage to be as faith-filled as was Paul.