(I Corinthians 13) 60/40

I love seeing the love between my niece and her husband. There is an intentionality, a sincere desire to build each other up.

I recently witnessed an exchange between them that came to mind as I read the “Love Chapter” today. They were in my kitchen putting together a lunch for them and the kids to take to the beach. I’m not sure what was being said but I heard my nephew say, “60. 40.” They both laughed and Elizabeth went over to him and gave him a hug.

I asked them what that was all about. They explained they were in a marriage class at their church and learned that 60% of the effort in their relationship was what they were to give to the other, gladly receiving a 40% return. You may be more familiar with this seminar than I, so I might not be explaining it exactly.

But I thought of that in regard to Paul’s letter. For those of you in a relationship (and those of you hoping to be), let me ask you this from I Corinthians 13:4-7:

Are you – or are you willing to be – 60% more patient with your spouse to their 40% of patiences shown you? Can you be 60% of the kindness factor in your home to their 40%?

Can you accept the 60/40 rule when it comes to not envying, not boasting, not being arrogant, rude, or self-seeking? What about the balance of irritability or keeping track of every little thing your spouse does wrong?

Verse 7 might be a killer for some of you. Can you expect more of yourself to “bear all things, believe all things, hope all things, endure all things” about your spouse? 60/40?

“Not fair,” you might say. “I want my marriage to be 50/50 all the way.” Honestly, I’m not sure how you measure that unless you keep track of every little thing. Do you give yourself a moment of meanness because they haven’t met their allotment of kindness?

I believe if you determine to give more, love more, do more for your spouse without expecting an equal return, you’ll be happier and so will they, and your relationship will be stronger and sweeter. At least that seems the case for Elizabeth and Seth.

Do you love your spouse, but expect them to love you more? Are you happy with that arrangement and fulfilled in your relationship? If not – and even if your relationship is good – I challenge you to read I Corinthians 13 and make it a pattern for your own 60/40.

Side note: if Jesus is our example, and if people will know we are His disciples if we love one another, 60/40 compared to his 99/1 is doable, don’t you think?

(I Corinthians 8-11) Who Is Your Example For Living?

Paul is one out of a handful of people who could confidently say, “Do as I do, AND as I say.” Not that he was perfect. He shared about his personal struggle with sin, confessed he had to intentionally die to himself every day. Paul never pretended the Christian walk was easy.

But Paul is an example of a man who was passionate about the Gospel of Jesus. He’s an example of someone whose own desires, needs, comforts, and popularity came in at a distant second to the Gospel. He was more concerned about the spiritual health of others than he was about whether or not he was compensated for ministering to them.

Say what you will about Paul, he was not a hypocrite. And he invites us to follow his example.

Passionate, focused, fearless, self-sacrificing are words that come to mind when I think about Paul’s example for living. Do any of those apply to me? Could I ever in a million years encourage you to follow my example?

The answer is, “NO!” Not out of humility, or the need to hear someone assure me how great they think I am. But because it’s true.

And I have to ask myself why, and what I’m going to do about it. Because as a Christian, a follower of Jesus, and a believer in the Gospel, I ought to be an example for living to others. The whole “Do what I say, not what I do,” cannot be true in someone who wears Jesus’ name.

What about you? Who is your example for living? And for whom are you that example?

(Acts 17-23) Determination

Paul’s example of how to share the Gospel of Jesus always speaks to me. He never apologized, but he was so wise in how he spoke. He knew when to be forceful, he knew when to be gentle. He spoke from a place of their understanding and always – always – proclaimed Jesus as the Truth.

Oh, he made enemies along the way. But he also made disciples. And it was for the sake of those who would receive the message that Paul forgot about his own comfort and safety, why he could speak boldly without compromise.

May the same be said about me. Because nothing is more important than that one individual who will come to the saving grace of Jesus because I was faithful to share His message with a Paul-like determination.

(Acts 16) How Far Are You Willing To Go?

It seems that immediately after the Church leaders made it plain that a Gentile did not have to be circumcised in order to be considered a believer, Paul had Timothy circumcised. Paul had been strongly against the circumcision requirement. So was he being hypocritical when he insisted Timothy be circumcised? What gives?

Well, first off, Timothy was already a believer. He had already accepted the saving work of Jesus by faith. His circumcision was not a step toward salvation. He was already saved.

So why on earth would he go through that painful surgery if he didn’t have to?

Timothy wasn’t circumcised for his own benefit. He did it for the benefit of the Jews who needed to hear the Gospel, and he knew the Jews would not easily accept the word of an uncircumcised man.

Paul and Timothy were picking their battles. It was the Gospel they wanted to preach, not the value or uselessness of circumcision.

Sometimes we get so caught up in little details and opinions that the Gospel isn’t heard. What is more important: what the preacher wears on Sunday morning (and I’m talking to you who prefer suit and tie AND you who prefer jeans and t-shirts), or is it what he says from the pulpit that matters?

Is it more important to hear drums or an organ accompanying the singing, or is the preaching of the Gospel more important? King James, NIV, or the Gospel being explained through the text?

Timothy was willing to go as far as having that surgery to clear the way for the Gospel. How far are you willing to go?

(John 19-21) What About Him?

Do you ever look at the guy down the street and ask, “Why does he have it so easy?” or look at your co-worker and wonder, “Why does she get all the recognition?” Maybe concerning your own hardships you hear yourself pray, “Why me, Lord? What about him?”

Peter was in that boat. Jesus had just described Peter’s future and gave Peter a glimpse at his own death. It wasn’t pretty. So in response Peter pointed to the disciple John and asked Jesus, “What about him?”

Maybe Peter wanted to be sure John didn’t get off easy, or maybe he wanted his own death to be the more impressive of the two. Maybe Peter had genuine concern for his friend John. I don’t know. But I think we all need to hear Jesus’ answer to Peter’s question.

Basically Jesus said, “It’s none of your business.”

When we begin to hear the “why?” questions in our heads we need to hear God tell us the same thing: It’s none of your business. How God works in the lives of other people is totally up to Him and has nothing to do with how He works in ours. God deals with all of us in many different ways, but with a common goal: the salvation of us all.

Do you trust God? Then know that however He is dealing with the guy down the street, that co-worker, or you, is done by a loving, compassionate God who just wants each of us to come to Him, to accept what Jesus died to provide – the eternal salvation of our souls.

Don’t waste time worrying about what that looks like in anyone’s life but your own. The “what about him?” question is none of your business.

(John 15-18) In Jesus’ Name

Do you end your prayers with the words, “In Jesus’ name?” I do. It’s the way I was taught to pray. But I don’t always give it a lot of thought.

Love ya. See ya later, alligator.

Here Jesus tells us why we should pray “in His Name.” In fact, He says if we do, we will get what we pray for.

Abracadabra!

Is praying in Jesus’ name the magic words to getting what we want? On the surface, it would appear so.

Then why am I still overweight?

If I pray in Jesus’ name, why am I not receiving what I’m praying for? My CSB Apologetics Study Bible (Holman Bible Publishers; 2017) says this on page 1332:

“‘In my name,’ corresponds to ‘according to my character’ and that is parallel to other texts that require us to leave room for God’s will to overrule ours.”

So when I pray in Jesus’ name I have to ask myself if what I am praying for is according to His character.

“Dear God, take away COVID.” Am I asking God to take away society’s deserved punishment for rejecting Him? I don’t know why this virus exists. But judgment is part of His holy character.

“Dear God, let me win the lottery.” Is greed or material wealth part of Jesus’ character?

God’s character is holy, just, loving, compassionate… Do I form my prayers according to His character? Praying in Jesus’ name isn’t merely tagging on a few words at the end. It’s adopting the mind of Christ, focusing on His character before we utter a word.

It’s praying, “Not my will but Thine be done,” and meaning it, trusting His character to do all things well.

In Jesus’ name.

(Matthew 10) Voices

There are so many voices out there these days: voices that use Scripture, compassionate voices, tolerant voices, loving and encouraging voices, voices that sound like Jesus’ voice but are really the voice of Satan. These voices can be sung in some worship services, preached from too many pulpits, written in some Bible commentaries, blogs, and study guides.

Some voices are more easily recognized as lies. They are in the news and social medias, on the lips of government officials, Hollywood, etc. At least they should be recognizable. They call good evil and evil good, they say males are females and females are males, the Constitution is bad and history needs to be erased or tweaked.

I say those voices are easily identified as lies and, with that, should be rejected. But obviously from what we see going on in our world, that is not the case. Those lying voices are loud and clear and believed by what may be the majority.

The reason for this is that we don’t recognize the voice of the Shepherd any more. We are lazy and irresponsible. We let others do our thinking for us. We follow this voice, then that, as those voices lead us further and further away from the Truth. And as we move further from the Truth, the Shepherd’s voice gets weaker and weaker.

Do you know the Shepherd’s voice? Can you distinguish it from the voice of the wolves that would lure you into death? If you find yourself beginning to fall for the alternate truths being shouted today, you need to stop and listen. Open your Bibles. Hear the voice of the Shepherd through the words He wrote to you. Reject the lies and stand on the only Truth there is.

I’m praying for you. I’m praying for us all.

(John 6:47-59) Eat Your Fill

I bet you think I’m talking about Thanksgiving dinner, right? Wrong. In fact, my thoughts today might cause you to lose your appetite all together.

I gotta be honest. Jesus’ words revealing Himself as the Bread of Life is gross. If a person didn’t know how often Jesus used metaphors and spoke in parables, they would be right to be disgusted by Jesus’ words in this passage. Be warned, my friend, before you turn to John 6.

But Jesus is not talking about cannibalism. He is not inviting anyone to gnaw on his physical flesh or drink the blood running through His veins here. It is true, however, that people who feed on Him will live forever.

Confused much?

Think about what Jesus is saying while using His body as an example. Being a Jesus-follower isn’t merely a nod at His diety, or acknowledging He is the Savior. Christianity isn’t merely a set of rules to follow, although obedience is certainly proof of being a Christian.

Jesus’ example of eating His flesh and drinking His blood tells me there is something uniquely different about being His. It’s an all-in, total transformation from the inside out. Here’s the correlation: when we eat and drink physical food and water, it enters our bodies and becomes nutrients, calories, energy and makes us healthy and strong. Eating and drinking sustains life.

And that’s what Jesus want to do in us. When we “take Him in,” He becomes our energy, strength, and spiritual health that will help us in this life and take us into eternity. He will transform us from weak, sinful people, into strong and healthy eternal individuals. It’s not about these rundown flesh and blood bodies. It’s about our spirits and souls.

When we ask Jesus to come “into our hearts,” we are asking Him to fill us completely, to become in us what we need for living today and forever. Just like food does for our bodies, Jesus does for our souls.

And Jesus isn’t talking about an occasional taste here. A nibble of food now and then isn’t enough to sustain a physical body. Neither is an occasional connection with Jesus. Read these verses. Jesus is talking about gorging ourselves on Him!

Take a bite. Read His Word. Take another bite and put your trust in Him. Eat some more by spending time with Him, growing in your knowledge and love of Him, allowing Him to transform you, strengthen you, direct your steps so that you look more and more like the One who fills you to overflowing.

Eat your fill. Then eat some more. You can’t get too much Jesus in you!

(John 1-3) The Whosoever

There is a debate among Christians over the “whosoever” in John 3:16. The question is” did God put on human flesh and live on earth for 33 years to die a horrible death for a few “chosen” people He would draw to Himself, and leave the majority of people without hope? Or did Jesus come to purchase salvation for the world, for every man, woman, and child who draws breath?

God loves the world. God gave His Son so that everyone who believes will have eternal life. God sent His Son into the world – not to condemn – but to save the world. Anyone who believes in Him in not condemned. Anyone who doesn’t believe is already condemned because of his unbelief. The truth is, Jesus came to be the Light but some people prefer the darkness. (see John 3:16-21)

Some people will point to Matthew 22:14 where Jesus said: Many are called, but few are chosen, and John 6:44 where the Lord said: No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and Ephesians 2:8-9 which says: It is by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God. Not of works so that no one may boast. These verses, they will argue, support the belief that God is selective in whose life He is working, that we as individuals have nothing to do with it.

Yet Jesus said: I will draw ALL PEOPLE to Myself. (John 12:32)

Here’s what I see according to Scripture:

  1. Jesus died for the sin of the world, for all of us without exception.
  2. God the Holy Spirit is revealing Himself, drawing to Himself every person – everyone! It’s not a question of “if” the Spirit moves in someone’s heart. The Spirit’s moving in all hearts. That’s a given.
  3. Now here’s where the “chosen” comes in. God chooses to save anyone who believes, anyone who is born again (John 3:5ff). God chooses to reject and condemn anyone who refuses to believe, anyone who prefers the darkness over the light He reveals to everyone.

C.S. Lewis said it best: “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, “Thy will be done,” and those to whom God says, “Thy will be done.”

Think about that for a minute.

The Lord is “…not wishing that any should perish, but that all would come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9b)

I think there is much more Scriptural evidence to support the fact that God, right now this minute, is working in the hearts and lives of all people everywhere, that He is seeking to save the lost, that God chose mankind to save and provided salvation for “whosoever” at the cross.

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – His eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” (Romans 1:20)

If there are people to whom the Holy Spirit is not revealing Himself, if there are some who God deems expendable, if there are those God is not drawing to Himself because they didn’t make the list, they would have a right to sit in hell and say, “It’s not fair. God didn’t choose me.”

No. They will sit isolated in hell and weep over the fact they didn’t choose God, remembering all the times God wooed, drew, revealed Himself, and died, so had they believed, their eternity would be life instead of the agonizing death they suffer. They will sit there forever without excuse.

If you have yet to submit to God, to be born again, I can assure you God is working fervently in your heart right now. His desire is that you become His child through the blood of His Son. You.

If you have a loved one who seems far from making that decision, rest assured that God is working fervently in that heart right this minute, too. Keep praying. Keep living your faith in front of them. Keep trusting God because He loves that person even more than you do.

He will do everything He can to draw all people to Himself. Except making them come to Him. That is a choice they will have to make for themselves. That choice isn’t “works,” as some people believe. Paul tells us all to make that choice:

That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. (Romans 10:9)

That is a promise to whosoever believes.

And when they make that choice to believe, they become chosen of God. He won’t turn away anyone who comes to Him.

For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only Son, that WHOSOEVER believes in Him will not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)

(The Book of Luke) Meet Your Savior

What does it mean to me that Jesus rose from the grave, that he died, was buried, and lived again? What does it say that many people who witnessed his very public death, watched his body placed in a tomb, then days later sat and talked with him, touched his flesh, saw the nail prints in His hands?

To me, it’s the difference between holding to a belief system, and holding to the Truth. If Jesus died and rose again, I can only bow to His power and proclaim, “He is God.” If He can do that, I can know His Words are true, said with authority no one else has.

I don’t have to hope I know the Truth. He is the Truth. If I see Him through eyes of faith, I see the Father. If I confess my sin He is faithful to forgive. If He tells me He’s preparing a place for me in eternity, I can know that’s exactly what He’s doing.

If you have doubt about the God/man Jesus, I challenge you to read Luke’s Gospel with the determination to hear the Truth. If you read it hoping to reenforce your skepticism, you’ll miss what God wants you to know. Put your doubt aside. Read it assuming it’s true, rather than assuming it’s false.

And meet your Savior.