Devotions

Monthly Archives: July, 2016

Fake gods

…”’An idol has no real existence,’ and that ‘there is no God but one’. For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth-as indeed there are many ‘gods’ and many ‘lords’ – yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom all things, and for whom we exist.” 1 Corinthians 8:4-6

If I had not put the scripture reference next to the words above you would just assume that they were words written by me. Paul, in his letter to the church at Corinth, made it very clear to the believers that any god or lord over and around them is fake. These same words I would say to you.

There is no genuine, authentic deity in them. They are man’s imaginable idea of God. Often they were a lucrative opportunity for a person or group of people. What is sad to me is that this scripture is still relevant today. The world has allowed so many gods and lords to take the place of the one true God. For example, who is Mother Nature? A replacement for the one true God that makes His sunrise on the evil and on the good and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. (Matthew 5:45) The Stork? Easter Bunny? Father Time? Santa Clause? I know I am picking on your childhood memories and mine as well. Can you see where the world wants us to put our focus on these characters or idols so that our focus is removed from the one true God?

Idols are not just characters with names. Idols can be anything or anyone that precedes or takes the place of God. When we give all our time and energy, when we give our passion and possessions to the idols of this world, we are worshipping them. God gets the leftovers or nothing at all from us. God is put in the closet for safekeeping. We treat God as if he is a vending machine expecting Him to dispense at our demand. We may seek Him only when the gods of this world are not meeting or fulfilling our expectations.

“Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3).

What fake God have you placed before the one true God?

How is it working for you?
Carole Combs
Women’s Ministry

Big Head or Big Heart?

You have to admit that when you were nineteen years old, you knew everything. You wondered how your parents were not so smart and that you had exceeded their intelligence. I was just finishing my first year at the university, and I was getting married. Newly married, we had a beautiful spacious apartment, a nice car, and good jobs. We were living the American Dream. Then reality hit! You know the bills, the arguments, the stresses, and the difficulties of life. What dream I was living in suddenly turned into a nightmare in my mind. Remember, I knew everything, so why was it not going “my” way?

I am so thankful that God has a heart of compassion. He gently moves and surrounds us with circumstances and situations that draw us close to Him. 1 Corinthians 8:1b says that “knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.” My know-it-all self was consumed with my ways, with my wants, and expectations. God showed me that the only real dream in this world we live in is His way, or if you may, His dream for you! We can be so focused on our plan that it will not matter who we run over in the process. Most often that plan of yours that you raced to was a dead end. When you arrived, you still had that feeling of emptiness and loneliness.

On the contrary to what the world teaches, knowledge will give you a big head and turn your focus inward, but love builds up and turns your focus outward. Do not get me wrong; I love to learn. I am continually a student of all the things that surround me. Most importantly, I am a student of the things of God. I love God and His Word and His Church. It is only through loving these when you will truly understand what real love is.

For God so loved…that He gave… (John 3:16)

Love the Lord with all your heart, soul and mind…and your neighbor as yourself. (Matthew 22:37-39)

Are you more concerned about your agenda or God’s agenda?

Do you have a big head or a big heart?

 

Carole Combs
Women’s Ministry

Is the Bargain Worth It?

If food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble. 1 Corinthians 8:13

The Apostle Paul addressed the believers in Corinth concerning the meat that was offered to the pagan idols. Some believers were purchasing the meat at such a bargain price from the pagan temples because it was much cheaper than the local meat market. However, there was confusion among the church. Some were wondering if it was appropriate for those that were getting the bargain meat to eat of it. They knew that idol worship was wrong, and many thought that eating that meat would make them participants in idol worship.

In this small chapter, Paul addresses several issues concerning the heart and actions of a believer. He wanted them to consider if that bargain meat was worth causing others to stumble in their faith.

Many of you will remember the time when there was not an expiration date on food items. After the dates were out on items, many items in my refrigerator that became “expired” according to my kids. They would refuse to use salad dressing or even have a drink of milk from a carton that was one day after the expiration date. Finally, after coming over for dinner and eating at Mom and Dad’s house became a time for date checking, I threw everything away. I did not want my family or a guest in my home to stumble at my dinner table. I wanted our time together to be focused on what matters rather than what I thought was all right.

“Let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother” (Romans 14:13).

What are you holding on to that is causing others to stumble? Is it worth it?
Carole Combs
Women’s Ministry

A Piece of Peace

“I want you to be free from anxieties” (1 Corinthians 7:32a).

Ever experience anxiety? Worry? Fear? Sometimes emotions hit us in “bundles,” making it hard for us to figure out what it is we are feeling. One thing is certain; it is not a peaceful feeling.

Paul, addressing the Corinthian believers’ concerns on marriage, makes his intentions clear. His primary concern was their spiritual health – their complete devotion to Christ. Anything distracting or competing for this devotion should be purposefully examined.

We see this in verse 35, “I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.”

 The last part of that verse jumps out at me, “undivided devotion to the Lord.” If you are like me, life throws a lot at you. Our responsibilities span across family, work, personal relationships, ministry, you fill in the blank. Sometimes I find myself allowing the urgent things to crowd out the important things – my relationship and devotion to the Lord.

It is the classic Mary and Martha conundrum (read about it in Luke 10:38-42).

Martha was busy tending to the ‘urgent’ while Mary sat at the feet of Jesus tending to what was ‘important’.

Paul’s concern for the young Corinthian church shows in his appeal to their priorities. Their anxiety, like ours, is directly related to what they consider important.

Responsibilities are real, we all have them, and we do not run from them. However, acknowledging our dependence and need for Christ to lead and direct us keeps all the pieces of the puzzle in its proper focus.

How about you? What’s consuming your mind and thoughts to the point of anxiety today? Have you submitted it to the Lordship of Christ, or are you letting it weigh you down?

Remember Jesus’ word:

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

That kind of love from an amazing Savior is worth all of my devotion.

How about you?

 

John Sanchez
Deacon of Finances

1 Corinthians 7

“For the present form of this world is passing away.” (1 Corinthians 7:31b)

Can I interest you in some Dutch Tulips? They are beautiful flowers; no doubt, you will enjoy them. Yes, you say? Wonderful, I have just the one for you – a rare gem. Will cost you a tidy $2,500. Wait that is too much you say? Ok, I have a more common variety. It’s a steal at $1,200.

Now before you choke on the absurdity of this offer, would you doubt me if I told you it actually happened? Even more, would you believe me if I told you there were hundreds (if not thousands) of people who paid these ridiculous amounts of money for these Dutch Tulip bulbs? Furthermore, those who did buy them did not even plant them! They would display them in their bulb state, considering them too valuable to plant. It was the Dutch Tulip Bulb mania of 1637. It started and crashed all in the same year.

I always find stories like this fascinating, and hard to believe. What drives people to deem some things worthless and other things so valuable? This is what Paul highlights to the Corinthian believers in 1 Corinthians 7:31.

The ancient Greek city of Corinth was one of the largest and prominent cities of its time. Having two major ports and roads converging from all parts of the known world, it was the center of activity in its corner of the Roman world. Traders, merchants, artisans, professionals, citizens, and slaves from around the world made their way through Corinth. It was a cosmopolitan city in every sense of the word.

This was the environment surrounding the young Corinthian church started by Paul. It experienced significant prosperity under Roman rule. This prosperity threatened to cloud the Corinthian believer’s understanding of whose kingdom they served. Their lifestyles indicated they were placing their faith and truth in the permanence of ‘this present world’.

Self-examination is no easy task. I find myself challenged to examine my inner priorities when I study God’s word. If I am honest, there are times I look deep inside and question my resolve, my devotion, and my authenticity. I, like Paul, sometimes find myself torn between two extremes. On the one hand cleaving to what I consider important, and on the other realizing the vanity of it all in light of God’s truth.

It is a healthy struggle. What would make it unhealthy is if the struggle did not exist. The human soul lulled into apathy and complacency is oblivious. It takes a strong (violent?) jolt out of our slumber to awaken us to the truth.

The present form of this world is passing away.

Are you vesting in the eternal or the temporal?

 

John Sanchez
Deacon of Finances



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