The blog contains daily devotions and notes from the weekly messages.  We encourage you to review the notes during the sermon or through the week!  Most of the posts will have an audio and/or video link at the end of the notes.  From time to time the pastors will share other insights and devotions here.

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Seize the Moment – Day 216

The Grace of Giving!

2 Corinthians 8

 

Good morning! This is Pastor Jerry Ingalls from New Castle First Baptist Church and today is Monday, October 19.

 

Did you know that a generous lifestyle brings glory to God?

 

Listen to Paul’s motives for giving in 2 Corinthians 8:9, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.”

 

Generosity gives glory to God because that is who our God is—we serve a generous God! Just look at Jesus, who made us rich through his glorious generosity. This is the gift of salvation made possibly only through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ! 

 

This is the extravagant love of John 3:16!

 

Our giving is worship to who God is; our giving is the celebration of what Jesus Christ gave to us; our giving is freedom from our insecurity and self-centered lifestyles; and our giving is glorious generosity for all to see and witness to what Christ has first done for us—the transformation of our story through the glorious Gospel!

 

Paul says in 2 Corinthians 8:7, “But just as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us—see that you also excel in the grace of giving.”

 

Seize the moment and practically point people to the glory of God by excelling in the grace of giving!

 

Remember: what you do with your money reflects the god you truly serve!

 

Have a wonderful day as you live in God’s amazing grace!

 
 
If you would like to receive a personal phone call today, all you have to do is dial the phone number below right now and one of us will call you soon.
 
 

YOUTUBE:

If you prefer a video, Pastor Jerry reads his devotion on YouTube as well. Click HERE to visit the page.
Videos are posted about a week after the devotion appears in the blog.

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Responding to the Presence of Jesus – Week 6

“Dressed for God’s Glory!”

Key Verses:  Colossians 3:12-17  (NAS95)

 

Two weeks ago, I focused on an important teaching from 1 Peter 2. Today, I am going to leap off of one specific identity marker from this amazing teaching from Peter. Listen to 1 Peter 2:4-5,
“And coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God, you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”
 
And 1 Peter 2:9-10,
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”

 

The identity marker we are going to focus on today is that we are called to be a holy and royal priesthood. First, we will look at the big picture of what this means and then we will look at two applications of being a holy and royal priest.

 

Remember, this teaching fits under the larger teaching that we are the Temple of the Holy Spirit—the restored Image Bearers of God’s Presence to the World. Our overarching purpose is always the glory of God—making His Presence known! As Peter stated in verse 1 Peter 2:9, royal priests “proclaim the excellencies of Him who has you out of darkness and into His marvelous light.”

 

Let’s examine our identity as a holy and royal priesthood:

 

Furthermore, of all the Israelites, God specifically chose the Levites to be the priests to a holy nation of priests. Listen to Deuteronomy 10:8-9,
“At that time the Lord set apart the tribe of Levi to carry the ark of the covenant of the Lord, to stand before the Lord to serve Him and to bless in His name until this day. Therefore, Levi does not have a portion or inheritance with his brothers; the Lord is his inheritance, just as the Lord your God spoke to him.”

 

Just as the specific family of the Levites was chosen to specifically function as the priests of Israel (intercessors between God and the Israelites), so the people of God in general (in this case the Israelites, but later also including the Church) were to function as priests to all of creation (intercessors between God and the “nations” (Gentiles; the rest of humanity). This has been God’s game plan since Genesis 11 and the separation of the nations. And we see this story thread from Genesis all the way through Revelation. This is why Israel was chosen, why the Law and the systems of worship and sacrifice were given, and why Jesus came as Messiah.

 

From the beginning, priests served as a set-apart family line of people who administered the people’s responsibilities in the covenant between God and man. In other words, they brought the people to God through the established systems of worship and sacrifice. They dressed in distinctive ways, worked to maintain the Temple and the systems of sacrifice and intercession, and had a close relationship with the administration of the society. All to preserve God’s prescribed way to experience the presence of God and live in His covenant love.

 

When you understand the theocratic nature of Israel, then you will see there is a symbiotic relationship between the work of the religious system (right worship and right sacrifices) done by the priests and the administrating systems of the kings (right justice and right living). This explains why an evil king could so easily lead the priests into false worship practices, and vice versa. The relationship was not meant to be dualistic or parasitic, but completely integrated and mutualistic—the right functioning of the priests brings thriving to the community as a whole and as the community as a whole thrives that brings greater glory to God in worship and sacrifice!

 

Briefly, an example of how the priests functioned within the larger community thriving was Deuteronomy 21:5
“Then the priests, the sons of Levi, shall come near, for the Lord your God has chosen them to serve Him and to bless in the name of the Lord; and every dispute and every assault shall be settled by them.”

 

With that simple understanding of priests being holy (set apart by God’s choosing) and royal (authorized through family lineage and in partnership with the King), let’s examine two applications for our everyday lives. Priests must do two things: (1) Dress the part and (2) Make right sacrifices for the glory God.

When you combine these two applications, you get today’s sermon title: “Dressed for God’s Glory!”

 

Priests dress the part in order to fit in!  That woke someone up… LOL! Please know that I’m not talking about women having to wear dresses and long hair and men having to wear suits with short hair.

 

Just as priests were “holy” (set apart for God’s purposes) by their distinctive dress and behavior, we are called to be “holy” (set apart for God’s purposes) which will result in us being different because of God’s presence.

 

If we are each a living stone, that means we have been quarried from death and brought to a new life through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. As new creations in Christ, we each must be dressed so that we can be fit together with other living stones to build the Temple of God’s Living Presence in the world.

 

All quarried stones must be “dressed” in order to fulfill their purpose in being chosen. Listen to an excerpt from an article on how to dress a quarried stone (https://civilseek.com/dressing-of-stones/):

 

Stone found in nature, have to be quarried from their thick beds. After quarrying large pieces of rocks, it is essential to break them into smaller sizes so that they can be used in buildings. A place where exposed surfaces of good quality natural rocks are abundantly available is known as “quarry,” and the process of taking out stones from the natural bed is known as “quarrying.” This is done with the help of hand tools like a pickaxe, chisels, etc., or with the help of machines. … The dressing of stones is important so that they are dressed in suitable shapes and polished to give a smooth surface if desired. The stones are used in different types of masonry; therefore, it has to be cut and shaped to fit in the type of work needed.

 

According to this article on dressing stones, there are 3 purposes for doing so and each can be highlighted by Paul’s words in Colossians 3:12-17:

 

For the first purpose listen to verses 12-13,
“So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.”

 

The first purpose of dressing a stone is: “to reduce the size.” We must decrease so that Christ can increase in and through us. The Holy Spirit dresses our heart character; we are transformed by the renewing of our minds so that our conduct is representative of being a new creation in Christ. The old must chipped off layer by layer!   

 

Secondly, listen to Colossians 3:14-15,
“Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.”

 

The second purpose of dressing a stone is: “to give a proper shape.” We do not fit together in our old ways of thinking and living. The perfect bond of unity, our fitting together, is dependent on our absolute submission to the Head and our mutual submission to one another as fellow members of His body. What binds us together is not ourselves, but the love and peace of Christ that we must be dressed in. Once again, the old ways of selfishness and anxious living must be chipped off layer by layer.

 

For the third and final purpose, listen to Colossians 3:16-17,
“Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.”

 

The third purpose of dressing a stone is: “to give an appealing finish.” Our lives are about the glory of God through us! And this leads us directly into our primary function as a holy and royal priesthood: Priests offer right sacrifices for the glory of God! We are to lead the nations into right worship to the one true God!

 

With all this mind, I now want you to listen to Paul teach us very practically in Romans 12:

 

Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove [by testing you may discern] what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect [mature]. For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

 

We are to offer right service to God and that is called worship!  Worship is more than a Sunday service and much more than a music style. Right worship bring God glory and that is what priests offer to a community. If we are to bring glory to God through right worship, it must start with each of us offering ourselves as living sacrifices, what Paul calls a “spiritual service of worship.” This is God’s reasonable expectation of His priests.

 

That is our identity and purpose as a holy and royal priesthood. This is how we are to respond to the presence of God. We are to be dressed for God’s glory and lead others into His presence by the way we live our lives for Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit.

 
 
 
 

You can listen to the message here. 

 

You can watch the message HERE.

 


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Seize the Moment – Day 214

“In Christ Alone”

 
“Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.”

 

This modern-day hymn was written by Stuart Townend and Keith Getty in 2001. They were both at a conference when a mutual friend suggested that they work together to write some new songs. Keith sent Stuart some melodies that he was working on and as soon as he heard the first one, he knew there was something profound about its classic melody that had an eternal, enduring aspect. He quickly called Keith and shared that he felt it should be a song about Jesus’ life, death and resurrection and what that means for us.
 
The song begins “In Christ alone, my hope is found, He is my light, my strength, my song”, declaring in whom our faith is placed, and ends with our faith and hope being fulfilled “Till He returns and calls me home, Here in the power of Christ I ‘ll stand!”

 

The power of this song points to what Christ went through, and we will be able to stand before Him because of all that He has done!
 
Seize the moment today and realize that it is He who changes everything in our lives and works all things together for our good!
 
 

YOUTUBE:

If you prefer a video, Pastor Ken reads his devotion on YouTube as well. Click HERE to visit the page.
Videos are posted about a week after the devotion appears in the blog.
 
 
Text and audio for hymn devotional:
 
If you would like to read the words to this hymn or hear the melody played, click on this link:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=16KYvfIc2bE
 

In Christ Alone

 
In Christ alone my hope is found;
He is my light, my strength, my song;
This cornerstone, this solid ground,
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My comforter, my all in all—
Here in the love of Christ I stand.
 
In Christ alone, Who took on flesh,
Fullness of God in helpless babe!
This gift of love and righteousness,
Scorned by the ones He came to save.
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied;
For ev’ry sin on Him was laid—
Here in the death of Christ I live.
 
There in the ground His body lay,
Light of the world by darkness slain;
Then bursting forth in glorious day,
Up from the grave He rose again!
And as He stands in victory,
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me;
For I am His and He is mine—
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.
 
No guilt in life, no fear in death—
This is the pow’r of Christ in me;
From life’s first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.
No pow’r of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home—
Here in the pow’r of Christ I’ll stand.
 
WORDS AND MUSIC BY KEITH GETTY & STUART TOWNEND
© 2002 THANKYOU MUSIC(PRS) ADM WORLDWIDE AT CAPITOLCMGPUBLISHING.COM EXCLUDING EUROPE WHICH IS ADM BY INTEGRITYMUSIC.COM
 
 

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Seize the Moment – Day 213

Godly Grief!

2 Corinthians 7

 

Good morning! This is Pastor Jerry Ingalls from New Castle First Baptist Church and today is Friday, October 16.

 

Did you know that grief is an important reality of our human experience?

 

Listen to Paul in 2 Corinthians 7:8-10, “For even if I made you grieve with my letter, I do not regret it—though I did regret it, for I see that that letter grieved you, though only for a while. As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.”

 

In this passage, Paul distinguishes between godly and worldly grief.

 

In fact, how we deal with the events of our lives that cause grief is an essential part of our Christian discipleship. While each person will grieve in a personal way, and we must make allowances for that, there are biblical principles to follow so that we don’t find our way into despair, caused by worldly grief, which as Paul teaches, “produces death.”

 

To avoid worldly grief, we are invited to respond to Godly grief with the 3 Rs:

 

  1. Remember Hope! In Christ, we do not grieve as the world grieves; we grieve with hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13).
  2. Repent for Your Life’s Sake! Godly grief is real; the sorrow of the situation is real!  Don’t deny Godly grief; it requires a response. Respond to your grief and sorrow by allowing God to do deep surgery in your soul.
  3. Restore Right Relationships—keep short accounts with God and people. Value healthy relationships.
 

Seize the moment and be a Hope-bearer, not a Doomsdayer! We all will grieve, but let us grieve according to our birthright: with faith, hope, and love! 

 

Have a wonderful day as you live in God’s amazing grace!

 
If you would like to receive a personal phone call today, all you have to do is dial the phone number below right now and one of us will call you soon.
 
 

YOUTUBE:

If you prefer a video, Pastor Jerry reads his devotion on YouTube as well. Click HERE to visit the page.
Videos are posted about a week after the devotion appears in the blog.

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Seize the Moment – Day 212

Every Crisis is an Opportunity!

2 Corinthians 6

 

Good morning! This is Pastor Jerry Ingalls from New Castle First Baptist Church and today is Thursday, October 15.

 

Every crisis is an opportunity! Do you believe that?

 

How are you responding to your circumstances?

 

Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 6:3-10, “We put no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything.”

 

Are you willing to allow all things in your life to point to God’s grace?

 

It should not surprise us that hardship, persecution, and suffering are a part of the Christian life.  Even a cursory reading of Jesus’ words and the New Testament will testify to this reality. But contemporary teachings have minimized this reality, and that does not help the cause of Christ because it weakens the church.

 

The world is watching us and how we respond to the curve balls that are thrown at us as the people of God!

 

Remember, it is not our circumstances that testify to the grace of God; it is how we walk through those circumstances that testifies to the presence of God in us!

 

Seize the moment and use your circumstances for God’s glory! Remember, every crisis is an opportunity!

 

Have a wonderful day as you live in God’s amazing grace!

 
 
If you would like to receive a personal phone call today, all you have to do is dial the phone number below right now and one of us will call you soon.
 
 

YOUTUBE:

If you prefer a video, Pastor Jerry reads his devotion on YouTube as well. Click HERE to visit the page.
Videos are posted about a week after the devotion appears in the blog.

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Seize the Moment – Day 211

A New Day!

2 Corinthians 5

 

Good morning! This is Pastor Jerry Ingalls from New Castle First Baptist Church and today is Wednesday, October 14.

 

It’s a new day with new opportunities! What is your mindset when you start a new day?

 

Paul teaches us in 2 Corinthians 5:6-9, “So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.”

 

The faith we are given and called into is a deep trust of who God is, the assurance of what He has already done, and the hope of what He will complete, so that we may confidently live by grace in obedience to His commandments and the purposes for our lives.

 

Faith fills us with courage regardless of what appears to be on the horizon in a new day. Faith gives us the courage to do more than survive another day, but to thrive for God’s glory—to hope for the New Heaven and New Earth and to live accordingly.

 

It is our faith that reminds us that we know the One who calls forth every sunrise as a gift of God—your life is pure grace!

 

Lamentation 3:22-24 teaches us, “The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘Therefore I have hope in Him.’”

 

Nothing on the horizon of this new day is a surprise to God. Be of good courage; live by faith and not by sight! Put your trust and hope in Jesus today.

 

Please listen: If you can hear me, you are blessed! Jesus is praying for you!

 

Seize the moment and make it your aim to please God today!

Have a wonderful day as you live in God’s amazing grace!

 
 
If you would like to receive a personal phone call today, all you have to do is dial the phone number below right now and one of us will call you soon.
 
 

YOUTUBE:

If you prefer a video, Pastor Jerry reads his devotion on YouTube as well. Click HERE to visit the page.
Videos are posted about a week after the devotion appears in the blog.

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Seize the Moment – Day 210

A Billboard of God’s Glory!

2 Corinthians 4

 

Good morning! This is Pastor Jerry Ingalls from New Castle First Baptist Church and today is Tuesday, October 13.

 

Your life is a billboard in lights!

 

Listen to 2 Corinthians 4:6-7, “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.”

 

God’s presence changes you and by design, the mystery of God is made known through you because the Holy Spirit now dwells in you—God has redeemed your life for an even greater purpose—to put on display something other than yourself. What a mystery and what grace!

 

This is the most liberating truth in the world; a balm to my soul. If I was the point of the story and my perfection were the point of the story, then what bondage I would experience as a Christian. But I am not the point; it is the treasure that has been placed in me that is the point!

 

The pressure is not on me to polish the outside of the vessel (to whitewash and cover it up), but to show the surpassing power that belongs to God and has been placed in my life by His grace and for His glory! Simply: I am to be a billboard of God’s glory!

 

It’s a humbling thought, but maybe God chose me and you so that other people would see us and think to themselves—if God could save a wretch like that, then He can love me too.

 

Seize the moment and shine the glory of God that has been given to you! God’s precious gift has been given to you to be put on display for all to see. Not hoarded as your private ticket to heaven, but heralded as God’s billboard of His Presence in the world.

 

Have a wonderful day as you live in God’s amazing grace!

 
If you would like to receive a personal phone call today, all you have to do is dial the phone number below right now and one of us will call you soon.
 
 

YOUTUBE:

If you prefer a video, Pastor Jerry reads his devotion on YouTube as well. Click HERE to visit the page.
Videos are posted about a week after the devotion appears in the blog.

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Seize the Moment – Day 209

Sacred Beauty in Ordinary Lives!

2 Corinthians 3

 

Good morning! This is Pastor Jerry Ingalls from New Castle First Baptist Church and today is Monday, October 12.

 

We are created and rescued to be restored Image Bearers of God’s presence in His creation—we are called by God to reflect His image to the world by how we love, care, and steward His creation. This world is our home and, as God promises in Revelation 21 & 22, it is His future eternal Home—the New Heaven and New Earth.

 

That means there is a sacred beauty to our ordinary lives! We are to reflect the glory of God as with unveiled faces. Our lives point to who and what is coming!

 

Paul teaches us this powerful truth in 1 Corinthians 3:17-18, “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.”

 

The more time we spend with God, the more we will reflect His glory and grace to others. The more familiar we are with His Word, the more our words will reflect His glory and truth to others. Our stories will point to Jesus Christ, crucified, risen, and coming again.

 

Like the moon, we have no glory of our own. We, too, are designed by the Creator to reflect the Light of the Son. May your life be so free in the Spirit that you reflect the glory of God more and more in your daily life—may there be a sacred beauty in your ordinary comings and goings.

 

Seize the moment and SHINE His light and love by how you love, care, and steward God’s creation around you.

 

Never forget: Jesus is praying for you!

Have a wonderful day as you live in God’s amazing grace!

 
If you would like to receive a personal phone call today, all you have to do is dial the phone number below right now and one of us will call you soon.
 
 

YOUTUBE:

If you prefer a video, Pastor Jerry reads his devotion on YouTube as well. Click HERE to visit the page.
Videos are posted about a week after the devotion appears in the blog.

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Responding to the Presence of Jesus – Week 5

“Love is the Source, the Way, and the Motive!”

Key Verse:  1 Corinthians 12:31  (NASB)

 

Last week, in the sermon, I mentioned as an aside what the Lord would have me unpack in more detail today: Love is the source, the way, and the motive of all that we do as the Church of Jesus Christ!

 

Paul concludes 1 Corinthians 12 with verse 31,
“But earnestly desire the greater gifts. And I show you a still more excellent way.”

 

Paul is teaching the new believers in Corinth how to be the Church of Jesus Christ. In chapter 11 he discusses communion and orderly worship, in chapter 12 he begins his discussion on spiritual gifts and the body imagery of the church that he then completes in chapter 14. Very often, and to our own demise, chapters 11, 12, and 14 are discussed divorced from chapter 13—the love chapter. What does chapter 13 have to do with taking communion, orderly worship services, healthy church life, or the ministry of the spiritual gifts after all?

 

Well, I’ll tell you what—when you divorce love from practical and spiritual conversations you get tens of thousands of church denominations characterized by church splits. You get a lot of broken people, broken families, and broken churches. In short, you get what we have! Why? Because we put Chapter 13 up on the wall as a poem, instead of in our hearts as the heartbeat of our lives!

 

Today, we are going to return Chapter 13 to its rightful place—not as an interlude of flowery poetry, but the very heartbeat and schematic of the church and the Christian life!  

 

Chapter 13 describes the “more excellent way,” that Paul states in 1 Corinthians 12:31! Paul starts it off in verses 1-3 with a shocking teaching,
“If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.”

 

Love is the Source, the Way, and the Motive of the spiritual life—for both the gathered church and the individual Christian as a member of the body of Christ! Let’s take each of these one at a time:

 

Love is the Source: Love, according to Paul is the “more excellent way”! Love is greater than tongues, prophecy, knowledge, miracles, sacrifice, and even martyrdom. How is that possible? I’ll tell you why! Because God cares about the what flows out of your heart—in your own life, in relationships, in ministry, in church work, in all things!

 

Remember what King Solomon taught us in Proverbs 4:23,
“Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life.”
 
Who is the source of the springs of your life? Here is the answer:
God’s presence is supposed to guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7).

 

The Beloved Disciple, John, explains to us what is looks like for God to be our Source. Listen to 1 John 4:7-21

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. We love, because He first loved us. If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.

 

We must always ensure that Love is the Source and that means that God is the Source.

 

James teaches us in James 1:17,
“Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.”

 

Love is not only the Source, Love is the Way: In 1 Corinthians 12:31, Paul calls love the most excellent way!

 

It is important to note that Jesus Christ, who is the fullness of God dwelling amongst us, said of Himself,
“I am the way, and the truth, and the life” (John 14:6).

 

Examining the context of Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians 12—14, Jesus does not call us to a life of promoting the spiritual gifts or even the church, but a life of utilizing the spiritual gifts to promote (“lift up” or “exalt”) the name of Jesus Christ through the proclamation of His Gospel. That is the purpose of the Church, remembering our lesson from last week,
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).
 
When you know your identity in Christ, then your attitudes and actions will flow from that central place of His Lordship.

 

Paul focuses us on the way with two key passages: 1 Corinthians 14:12 states,
“So it is with you. Since you are eager to have spiritual gifts, try to excel in gifts that build up the church.”
 
And in verse 26,
“When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church.”

 

These are key verses in understanding the purpose of spiritual gifts—to build up and strengthen His Church. We are living stones that make up the Temple of God’s presence in the world and we are members of His body so that the world may see His presence. Spiritual gifts and how we gather and conduct ourselves are all for this same reason—to make Him known! To draw people to Him!

 

Spiritual Gifts are given by the Source of love to live in the way of Jesus!

 

The best examples of the way of love are found in the major events of the Christian faith:
(1) Christmas (the incarnation);
(2) Good Friday (the atonement);
(3) Easter (the resurrection); and
(4) Pentecost (the birth of the Church).
 
These are all signs of God’s love poured out for us and poured into us. Because of God’s faithfulness in the past, we await the completion of His love with the New Heaven and New Earth. We are still awaiting the completion of love, but we know that the Day is coming.

 

Until that Day, we gather as the Church and use His spiritual gifts as witnesses to the Way of Jesus Christ. We are to put on display the character of Jesus Christ, called the “Fruit of the Spirit” by Paul in Galatians 5:22-23. Not surprising, first out of the block on the character of Jesus Christ is: “love” followed by “joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.”

 

This is what it means to follow Jesus!

 

We must expand this teaching! I do so because the “Fruit of the Spirit” is grammatically a collective whole and not 9 individual fruits: If we do anything, no matter how spectacular for Jesus or how accurate to the Word we think it is… If we do anything without love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, or self-control, then that work or sermon or debate is “a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal” (1 Corinthians 13:1).

 

It’s empty! Because the source must be love and the way must be love and the motive must be love.

 

Love is the Motive of all that we do as the Church of Jesus Christ: The building up the Church is our motive because the Church is the Body of Christ—it is built up and held together only by love. The Body of Christ requires each member to live a life of love mutually submission to one another and complete dependence upon Christ who is the head of the Church.

 

Love is our Source, Love is the Way, and Love is our Motivation!

 

As Paul says in Colossians 3:23-24,
“Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.”

 

Check your motives…

 

Check your ways… your attitudes and actions…

 

Check your heart… Who is sitting on the throne of your life—your identity and your decision making?

 

Holy Spirit, search me and know me… we invite you to refine us with Your fire Heavenly Father…
 
 
 
 
 

You can listen to the message here. 

 

You can watch the message HERE.

 

 

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Seize the Moment – Day 207

“Praise God, from Whom All Blessings Flow”

   or better known as
“The Doxology”

 
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.”

 

Thomas Ken, known as England’s First hymnist, was born in 1637 in Little Berkhamsted, which is on the fringes of greater London. When his parents died, his half-sister enrolled him in the historic boys’ school, Winchester College.

 

Thomas was later ordained and return to the school as their chaplain. To help encourage the boys’ devotional habits, he wrote three hymns in 1674 for them to use in their private time.

 

The stanza “Praise God from Whom all blessings flow. Praise Him all creatures here below. Praise Him above ye heavenly host. Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost Amen” was used to close out the morning hymn, the evening hymn and the one to be sung at midnight if sleep did not come.

 

When he died in 1711, he was buried at sunrise and this hymn was sung at his funeral.

 

Seize the moment today and make it a practice to praise God in the morning, when you lie down to sleep at night, and especially if you find yourself restless in the middle of the night. He will bring you peace!

 
 
If you would like to receive a personal phone call today, all you have to do is dial the phone number below right now and one of us will call you soon.
 
 

YOUTUBE:

If you prefer a video, Pastor Ken reads his devotion on YouTube as well. Click HERE to visit the page.
Videos are posted about a week after the devotion appears in the blog.
 
 
Text for hymn devotional:
If you would like to read the words to this hymn or hear the melody played, click on this link:
https://www.hymnal.net/en/hymn/h/8
 

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