"Give us each day our daily bread." ~ Luke 11:3
Read Pastor Karl's daily devotionals!
New devotionals will be posted Monday through Friday, and will remain here on the website for a week's time.
Tuesday, May 11, 2021
"I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers, because I hear about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints. I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.” (Philemon 4-6)
The Apostle Paul wrote this personal letter to a man named Philemon. Paul wrote this letter to encourage Philemon to accept back his runaway slave Onesimus, not as a slave, but as a brother in Christ.
Before Paul gets to his request, he expresses to Philemon how grateful he is for Philemon’s faith and life. Paul is thankful for Philemon’s faith even as he prays that Philemon’s faith may become more active. Specifically, Paul prays for Philemon as he shares his faith.
In the final phrase of verse six, Paul changes the pronoun. Paul moves from the singular, “you,” to the plural, “we.” We might have expected Paul to say, “So that you will have a full understanding of every good thing you have in Christ.” Paul does NOT say that. Paul says, “…every good thing we have in Christ."
It can be a long journey from “me” to “we.” In Christ we are called to make this journey. We are called to move from asking: “What good thing have I received?” to asking, “What good thing have we received?"
Our faith changes dramatically as we envision ourselves as members of the community of believers. This change involves loss, as well as gain. Philemon lost a slave as he gained a brother in Christ. We have no indication that he was anything but joyful over the exchange.
Monday, May 10, 2021
“The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for the building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:11-13)
Some of us are terribly concerned with “spiritual gifts.” Others of us don’t think much about “spiritual gifts” at all.
How do we give proper attention to our Lord’s promise that the spirit has given some sort of gift to each of us?
First, we remember that the “gifts of the Spirit” can never separated from the Spirit. The gifts of the Spirit are never our possession. In 1 Corinthians 12:7, the Apostle Paul speaks of the “manifestations of the Spirit.” The gifts of the Spirit involve nothing less than the Spirit working in and through us.
Second, we remember the purpose for which these gifts are given. The gifts of the Spirit are given “for the building up of the body of Christ.” Spiritual gifts never function to enhance either our reputation or our self-esteem. They are for the benefit of the Church. Identifying our spiritual gift(s) may as simple as asking, “How can I build up Christ’s Church?"
Third, lest we think we have been passed over when it comes to spiritual gifts, the very first spiritual gift is faith itself (1 Corinthians 12:3). Paul says that no one can confess, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Spirit. If we have faith, even a weak and fragile faith, we have been empowered by the Spirit.
How might each of us contribute so as to build up the body of Christ?
Friday, May 7, 2021
“Come to him, a living stone, though rejected by mortals yet chosen and precious in God’s sight, and like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 2:4)
Oxymorons are phrases that appear to be self-contradictory: “jumbo shrimp,” “bittersweet,” “clearly confused,” “only choice,” “original copy,” “small crowd,” and “farewell reception.” Still, we use them because of their ability to communicate.
Peter speaks of the followers of Jesus being “living stones.” This is not exactly an oxymoron, however, it does present a contradiction. Stones are dead. There is no such thing as a living stone.
Or is there?
The largest and greatest stones in Jerusalem were the ones incorporated into the Temple. The Temple stones were special because they were a part of the “house of God.” They had a “living quality” to them because of God’s presence.
Peter speaks of Jesus’ followers becoming a “spiritual house.” God’s presence, rather than being found among the stones of the Temple in Jerusalem, will be found among the “living stones,” the “holy priesthood,” of Jesus’ disciples.
As living stones we are not inert and dead. Peter says, “let yourselves” be built into a spiritual house. We have choices to make.
The main choice that Peter is talking about here is allowing ourselves to “be built” into a spiritual house. Peter speaks of the corporate nature of this spiritual house.
Together we are to offer acceptable sacrifices to God through Jesus Christ.
Thursday, May 6, 2021
“Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God.” (Romans 5:1-2)
What might it mean to “share in God’s glory?"
It can’t mean taking on the attributes of God. We will forever be God’s creatures. We have been created in the “likeness of God,” however, we will never become “God-like.” If God’s glory is a pure and holy glory, how can we “share in it?"
Consider one, albeit imperfect, example.
On November 28, 2008, the Nebraska football team trailed the Colorado Buffalos by one point with 1:50 left in the game. It was fourth down. The Cornhuskers needed 25 yards for a first down. If they failed to get a first down they would not get the ball back. Alex Henery came onto the field to try a school record 57 yard field goal.
A few of you might have been in the stadium that day. If you were not there, you can watch what happened on Youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZUXb7iTPBfo.
Those who were there will remember "sharing in the glory” as the officials raised their arms signaling a made field-goal. Those in the stands did not kick the ball, however, they shared in the glory of the moment.
Sharing in the glory of God just may be similar. It is being a part of the “great cloud of witnesses” who are privileged, by the grace of God, to be a part of our Lord’s glorious Kingdom.
Can we be as exuberant as the people in the stands that November evening when we see Christ and His Kingdom prevailing?
Wednesday, May 5, 2021
“I have set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth…When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of the flesh that is on the earth.” (Genesis 9:13, 16)
The Lord has a relationship with all of creation. This relationship is based solely on His covenant, His Promise. Genesis tells us that the Lord has set a bow (rainbow) in the clouds as a sign and reminder of this covenant.
Startling is the declaration that the function of the bow is to remind the Lord of His covenant. The Lord says, “I will see it (the bow) and remember the everlasting covenant...” Isn’t it strange that the Lord sets the bow in the heavens in order to remind Himself?
Yet, we also see the bow.
When we see the bow in the clouds we are reminded that the Lord remembers us. The bow is not simply a sign of the Lord’s covenant with all creation, it's also the sign that testifies that the Lord remembers, and has not abandon, His covenant.
When we see a rainbow, brilliant in the clouds, we know the Lord is also looking…and remembering us.