Category: 1 Corinthians (Page 1 of 18)

Serve Like Jesus

“What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants.” ~1 Corinthians 3:5

Around the table on that last night, our Lord Jesus personally washed the feet of his disciples. Then he told them, “Anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing” (John 14:12). Our model is the Lord. We serve others in the name and manner of our great high priest. We do our best to imitate Jesus, the Christ, who was always with people, always helping people, always serving people. In the crush of the crowd, in the middle of the multitude – healing, feeding, protecting, encouraging. In the quiet of the one-on-one conversations at night. Weeping at a funeral. Eating with a tax collector. Holding the kids. Dying on a cross.

The Church is not an end in itself. The Church does not exist to make rules, to pass laws, to be in charge, or to glorify itself. The Church does not seek its own power or privilege or comfort. And we’re not just a support group for people who have already been saved. Just like our Lord, the Church is sent into the world not to be served, but to serve. And to give itself up for others.

We know the words of our Savior who said it is more blessed to give than to receive. And we experience the truth of that, and the blessings, when we serve others in love.

Peace,

Allan

Making Arrangements

“God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.”
~1 Corinthians 12:18

What a really wonderful day Sunday here at GCR Church. We were delighted to introduce eight new babies from six different families into our congregation and to lift them up to the Lord in prayer and blessing. We thanked God for these little bundles of his grace, we asked him to bless these babies richly with his love and protection and peace, and we asked God to equip the parents and give them strength and wisdom to raise their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. And we charged our entire church with helping these families, with loving and raising these babies, and to support and encourage these new parents.

We also introduced eight people / families as brand new members at GCR – a total of 24 men, women, and children who are committing to everything God is doing in us and through us to his glory. These people are jumping in to the mission of this church – to be a Christ-centered family that loves like Jesus. They’re promising to worship and serve and live with us, together, to advance God’s Kingdom on this earth to his eternal praise. They’re bringing their gifts and their passions, their baggage and their personalies, their abilities and their joy! It was such a wild thing to introduce 24 brothers and sisters in Christ as new members during the same service – the congregation responded with a standing ovation!

We pledged publicly in that moment to belong to each other at GCR. We promised to love and support these new church members. We promised to encourage and challenge these new members and to always give them the benefit of the doubt. And we promised to roll up our sleeves and work hard together for everything God is wanting to do in Midland.

God is arranging the parts at GCR, every one of them, exactly as he wants them to be. He’s moving people to Midland from Dallas and Houston and from some of the smaller towns out here in West Texas to join us in what he’s doing with this church. He’s putting everything perfectly in place for his Kingdom plans.

And we don’t get to choose any of them. We don’t get to interview anybody, we don’t get a vote. God chooses the people and moves them in and smashes us together to achieve his purposes and to shape us more into his holy image. He puts us together in a place where we are forced to love each other, forced to sing each other’s songs, to listen to one another’s opinions, to pray over each other’s cares, to forgive one another’s wrongs, and to eat and drink a meal together every Sunday. It shapes us. It forms us. It blesses us with more energy and resources to better serve the people of our city in the name and manner of Jesus.

God is arranging the parts at GCR. He’s doing something big here, something significant; something that, by his grace, will impact this city and the whole world with his amazing love. And I feel so blessed by him to be one of those pieces he’s moving in and arranging. I feel so privileged to be right in the middle of whatever our Lord is cooking here in Midland, Texas.

This coming Sunday we’re introducing at least three or four more families as new members into our congregation. May we give God the glory and praise, may we pay close attention to these new folks and to what our Lord is wanting to do, and may his will be done in and through us at GCR, together, just as it is in heaven.

Peace,

Allan

Somebodies Out of Nobodies

The introduction to David in 1 Samuel – his anointing at his father Jesse’s house and his battle with Goliath – tells us something very important about our God. Our Lord takes nobodies and makes them somebodies. He does incredible mind-blowing things with people he finds at the back of the line or at the bottom of the pile.

Three people are described as “big” in 1 Samuel 16-17. Eliab, the first born son who was not anointed king; Saul, the king chosen by the people but rejected by God; and Goliath, the enemy of God’s people who was killed by David. David is the “little” one in this story. But he is beloved. Just like Israel. Little and small, but chosen and loved by God. This is how our God works. Think of what you were when you were called.

“Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth (he’s talking about us). But God chose the foolish things of this world… God chose the weak things of this world. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things – and the things that are not – to nullify the things that are…. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus who has become for us… our righteousness, holiness, and redemption.” ~1 Corinthians 1:26-30

David was not even a player. He’s got no potential in the opening scene. He was the youngest son and his dad completely forgot about him. But God chose him and made him king. God worked in and through David to bring salvation to his people. This is how God does things.

Through Jesus he takes a poor fisherman and makes him the foundation of his eternal Church. He takes a young man with anger issues and, through him, gives us the most beautiful words about love in the whole Bible. He takes a persecutor of the Church and a killer of Christians and makes him the greatest missionary and church planter in history. That’s exactly how our God works. Because when things happen that just don’t make sense, God gets all the glory and praise.

His power is made perfect in our weakness. And his matchless grace is received as a gift.

Peace,

Allan

Secure in the Midst of Suffering

“Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion,
which cannot be shaken but endures forever.
As the mountains surround Jerusalem,
so the Lord surrounds his people both now and forevermore.”
~Psalm 125

Living as a child of God and a disciple of Jesus Christ is not like walking a tightrope without a safety net. This is not a situation in which you’re 200-feet up, trying to keep your balance, and taking extra care with every movement and twitch. A fly landing on your nose is life-threatening. People are watching you, everybody’s paying attention, some are secretly hoping you’ll crash and burn. That’s not the Christian life. It’s not a tightrope where every single step you take is a life or death deal. It’s more like sitting safely and securely inside a fortress. If you’re a Christian, you’re protected. You’re safe.

Even in your sufferings. Even when bad things happen to you. When you lose something you think you can’t live without. When your loved ones suffer pain. When you’re the victim of an injustice.

Psalm 125 says you’ll be OK because you’re surrounded by God. He’s got you. As long as the Lord is your God, you’ll be fine.

Whoever wrote Psalm 125 did not have anesthesia at the hospital, he didn’t have Tylenol or antibiotics in his medicine cabinet, and he didn’t have a government spending hundreds of billions of dollars on national defense. The writer here endured pain and suffering and threat personally and with the people around him every day. Why did that not destroy his confidence in God?

“The scepter of the wicked will not remain over the land allotted to the righteous.” ~Psalm 125:3

The wickedness won’t rest, it won’t last, it won’t stay with you permanently. The bad stuff is always temporary.

“…for then the righteous might use their hands to do evil.” ~Psalm 125:3

If the evil is permanent, if there’s no hope for deliverance, even the most faithful and devout person will break. They’ll use their own hands to do evil — it’s too much. But God never allows that to happen. The pain and the suffering are never too much for our faith.

“God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” ~1 Corinthians 10:13

At some point, at just the right time, it goes away. The bad stuff is never too much for your faith. And it’s never too much for our God.

“If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all — how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?… Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?… No! In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” ~Romans 8:31-39

Peace,

Allan

Prayer of Our Lord

It’s striking to me that in the very last recorded conversation between Jesus and his Father in the Gospel of John, just hours before his hands and feet would be nailed to the tree, Jesus is talking about our unity as his followers. These are some of the very last words of our Lord. And they carry so much weight.

“I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. All the ones I have are yours, and all the ones you have are mine. And glory has come to me through them… Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name — the name you gave me — so that they may be one as we are one… My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world… I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe… May they be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me.” ~John 17:9-23

This prayer of Jesus is very familiar to us. Maybe a bit too familiar, like maybe we’ve heard it so often and read it so much and NOT made it the priority that Christ does, we’ve NOT pursued it and practiced it or been willing to die for it like Christ is. Maybe it’s lost its punch. Verse ten has really jumped out at me the past couple of weeks. Maybe the message of verse ten can revive the punch in our Lord’s prayer.

“All the ones I have are yours and all the ones you have are mine.”

All those who belong to God belong to Christ and all those who belong to Christ belong to God, which means all those who confess Jesus as Lord — “all who will believe in me” — all belong to each other. We’re not promoting Christian unity here, we’re practicing it. Christian unity is not something we chase or pursue, it’s not something we must generate or create; it’s already the reality! Christian unity is the gift we’ve all been given by God in Christ.

Scripture tells us we all form one body, that this is the way it is in Christ.

“For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body — whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free — and we were all given the one Spirit to drink… In fact, God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be… Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” ~1 Corinthians 12:13, 18, 27

We don’t try hard to be a part of the body. We don’t do our best to share in the blessings of belonging to God’s one universal and united people. No! Listen to the Bible! You. It’s plural, actually, so, you all. Y’all ARE the body of Christ. So act like it.

“You are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” ~Galatians 3:26-28

Because of our fallen, sinful nature as humans and because of the broken systems and structures of the fallen, sinful world, we don’t see each other enough. We don’t listen enough to each other’s stories. We don’t know each other well enough to practice and live this unity that’s already there if we’ll just pay attention to it. If we’ll just look each other in the eye. If we’ll really listen to each other well. If we’ll commit to loving all believers in Jesus as the brothers and sisters in Christ they are.

“In Christ, we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” ~Romans 12:5

What does it mean for all Christians to belong to each other? It means we love each other. We forgive each other. We help carry each other’s burdens. We look out for each other and take care of each other. It means offering grace to people we’d rather punch in the throat. It means standing alongside those whose politics we might detest.

This is what Jesus prayed. This is who Jesus is. The way Jesus lived his life, the things he taught and the stories he told — he erase all the labels we attach to others. He obliterated the ways we draw lines and build walls between us and others. He lived and taught the complete unity of all God’s people.

When you see the hungry and thirsty — listen to the words of Jesus — when you see the alien, the naked and the sick, when you see the prisoner, you’re looking at me.

The Samaritan? Yeah, he’s your neighbor. That’s right, the guy who doesn’t look like you, his skin’s a different color than yours, he lives in a different part of the city, he doesn’t smell like you, he doesn’t vote like you, he believes and practices his Christianity a little differently than you — he’s yours. You are responsible for each other.

Jesus completely turned upside down the whole economy of the way the world operates. The first are last! The poor are blessed! The oppressed are kings! We love our enemies and pray for those who treat us wrong! Why would we ever stand by and ignore or go along with the world’s status quo when our Lord Jesus prayed that it would all be changed?

Each member belongs to all the others. All the ones I have are yours and all the ones you have are mine. Taking care of each other. Uniting as one. That’s the prayer of our Lord. It’s what he asked for the night before he died.

Peace,

Allan

Almost Easter

This is the video message we posted for our Central church family last night.

The church building might be empty on Sunday, but so is the tomb!

Peace,

Allan

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