St. Luke’s Weekly Devotions are written by people just like you. These devotions draw on authentic life experiences, scripture, prayers, and sermon series material to offer inspiration throughout the week. Use these devotions to guide you in your spiritual journey.
That’s the Power of Love February 13, 2017
And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.
If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. . . . (1 Corinthians 13)
Think about: In the Gospel of John we learn that God loved us so much that he sent his son to die for us so that we could spend eternity with him. (John 3:16). That’s the kind of love we are talking about here, not that overwhelming emotion we feel when we are with the people we care about. We’re talking about the kind of love where our feelings don’t matter. All that matters is that we serve God as vessels of his love, communicating his love to everyone — the people we love, the people we don’t love, the people we can barely tolerate, the people who have trouble tolerating us, the people we agree with, the people we don’t agree with — well, I could go on and on.
In this most familiar passage of 1 Corinthians, Paul is dealing with a problem that exists among believers concerning gifts of the Spirit — abilities they received when they chose to follow Jesus and were baptized by the Holy Spirit. To serve others as God wants them to, the believers had to have the power of God within them. The Holy Spirit provides that power and gives them — and us — capabilities that we otherwise cannot do. These gifts of the Holy Spirit enable us together to serve each other and the world as the body of Christ.
The Corinthians have been arguing about the gift of tongues, the ability to pray using a special prayer language provided by the Spirit. Those Corinthian believers who have it like to show it off and seem to think they are better Christians because of it. In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul wants them to learn that the gifts themselves don’t make them better Christians. Without the love behind the gifts, those special abilities simply don’t matter. They could pray in tongues all day. They could preach sermons or write devotionals all day, teaching others about Jesus. They could totally deny themselves by giving away everything they have, and it wouldn’t matter. If they didn’t love, none of it would matter.
So it is with us. It is true that when St. Lukers properly use the gifts given them by the Holy Spirit to serve the church, the body is likely to achieve many of its goals, but if we, as a body, don’t do so out of love for God and others — if we do it to feel important or to take pride in what the church does or to boast about what a great church we have — our accomplishments will be meaningless.
What matters is the fruit our efforts will provide. If we are able to draw people to Jesus, to help people know that they are forgiven, to feel totally welcomed by the St. Luke’s community, we’ve done something significant. We’ve glorified God, not St. Luke’s. And to do that, we need love.
Pray this prayer: Father, this word passed on to us through your prophet Paul is one of the most important passages in your Bible. It helps us understand why you sent Jesus and how much you love us. It also gives us a way of understanding how we are to serve you, to glorify you. Thank you for your Word, Holy Father. Amen.
The Measuring Stick February 15, 2017
it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth.
It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. . . . (1 Corinthians 13)
Think about: The middle portion of I Corinthians 13 is something we should all commit to memory. It tells us how God loves us and what the result of that love relationship is, but it also tells us what a relationship with others will be like if we love people with God’s love.
Love is patient. Is God patient with you? He is with me. He was with Abraham. He told Abraham that he had been selected to be the father of uncountable numbers of people. Then he waited for Abraham to shape up to the person he had to be to achieve God’s goals. When Isaac was 12, God told Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. Now, an impatient Abraham might have wondered openly what God was up to. But Abraham loved God patiently, waiting for him to provide whatever would allow Abraham to make sense of what God was doing. Faith makes patience possible.
Love is kind. Think of the many times Jesus shows kindness to everyone, even though tradition has told him not to be kind to some of the others — Nicodemus, the wedding party, the Samaritan woman at the well, the tax collectors, the adulteress, the Roman centurion — even the people who crucified him. So we are to be kind even to those who are not kind to us.
Love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. Envy and boastfulness are born out of our desire to appear to be better than others. Arrogance and rudeness come from believing that we are better than others. God has shown us that we have nothing to be so proud of, no reason to brag, and certainly no reason to treat others as if they don’t deserve our time and effort. Self-denial — putting others before ourselves — is the key to this facet of love.
Love does not insist on its own way. Even God does not insist on his own way. Rather, he waits for us to realize that his way is the best way. So we should treat others, giving everyone an opportunity to contribute his thoughts on how things should be done. We can contribute our thoughts as well, but we should never disrespect others by insisting on our way.
It is not irritable or resentful. When things don’t go our way, we get irritable or resentful, again loving ourselves more than we love others. We must love people through the hard times, not make them harder.
It does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. TRUTH! Through our example we love people enough to share the truth with them. We don’t insist that they accept the truth, but we live the truth. That is the best way to rejoice in Truth.
It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Enduring the circumstances we find ourselves in shows that we love God (He’s in control) and are available to help others to get to the good that he has promised will come to us. Being a positive example because we know Jesus lives and has only the best for us (as he defines it) is loving others as he loves us.
Pray this prayer: Because you live Father, I can face tomorrow and love others enough to do the same. Give me the heart knowledge of your love, Father, so I can build relationships with others that reflect your love. Amen
The Greatest of These February 17, 2017
For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part;
but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end.
When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways.
For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known.
And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:1-13(NRSV)
Think about: Have you thought about it? What it will be like when we enter God’s Holy Kingdom? When we become like Jesus?
There are things in our physical world that limit our experiences — things like time and space and our own finite minds — so it is difficult to imagine what lies ahead in our eternal lives. Books and movies like The Shack may spark our imaginations, but we really don’t know. This last part of 1 Corinthians tells us something about the Holy Kingdom.
Here’s some of what it tells us. First, as much as we think we know, the fact is that we don’t know it all. That’s what makes unending Bible study so important. There is still more to KNOW, still more that God will teach us through the Holy Spirit. Second, worship as we know it will no longer be viable. We will continue worshipping but in ways we can’t even fathom. Third, we will be complete. God will have finished his work in us so that we will be holy enough to coexist with him.
Paul likens the experience to growing up, to becoming an adult and accepting what it means to be an adult. Things are a lot more real when we become adults. We view life experiences from a totally different perspective.
When we see God face to face . . . well, that’s the part I can’t imagine.
I know that my faith and hope will be fulfilled; all the questions will be answered. But the love will go on, not only the love for others that my faith requires of me but the love of God. When we are fully in his presence, how could we possibly not love him as he loves us? God is love, and so must we be.
Pray this prayer: I praise you Lord for all that you do to make it possible for me and all those whom you love and I love to spend eternity with you. Thank you, God! Amen.