Within the body of Christ, there are just so many dynamics going on all at once! Thank God for the Apostle Paul who wasn’t afraid to thunder in and set things straight! From the dawn of time until today and for the rest of time until the Lord returns, there will plenty to work out within the church! Issues abound, don’t they?! Here’s how a wise man (my dad!) one said it: “When the Lord wants to bless you, He uses another person. When Satan wants to harm you, he uses another person!” Within the four walls of the church, between churches, between denominations- everyone has an interpretation, an opinion, a revelation, a tradition and, well, a personality! Preaching, tithes and offerings, liturgy, kneeling, standing, grape juice versus real wine, meeting in a dark sanctuary or a well lit on and don’t get me started on worship…! So what now?
God isn’t unaware that these things are affecting us all, but He also expects us all to get over it and focus on what He needs to have done for the Kingdom! Maybe that sounds harsh, but we are at war!! You can’t change everyone else (and some people will never, ever change), but you can let the Lord change you. “…when you come together as the church, I hear that there are divisions among you,” Paul wrote to the church in Corinth. “And I believe it.” (1 Corinthians 11:18) Let’s get real for a minute: Some of the most irritating, grating, selfish, ignorant people you’ll ever meet will be those who labor among you in Christ. While you don’t have to like everyone, you do need to love them and forgive them and if you really do love them with the Lord of the Lord, you’ll see all those odious aspects through His eyes of compassion for their weakness. (Certainly not forgetting that you have your own weaknesses! 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 & Hebrews 4:15)
Why does this matter so much? Because if you can’t move past the issues you have with your brother or sister in Christ, your worship won’t be able to either.
Why does this matter so much? Because if you can’t move past the issues you have with your brother or sister in Christ, your worship won’t be able to either. If you’re stuck emotionally, you’ll always feel stuck spiritually too. Wouldn’t Satan just love that?! “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17) You know what happens when iron sharpens iron? Sparks fly! Here is what Paul wrote to the church, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:31-32) Bitterness and malice in the church?? Say it ain’t so! Remember: Whatever Satan can divide, he can and will conquer – and that goes for the church at large and for you, personally. So, if you look around you and see division, guess what’s next? A weak, miserable or lame Christian?! That’s what a spiritual predator like Satan loves most!
Thought for today
Like it or not, you need them as much as they need you. (Make sure to read tomorrow’s devotion to see why….!) It’s nothing new, of course, but you must protect your connection with the Lord in worship because Satan wants nothing more than to break it. Why?? Because in His presence is fullness of joy (Psalm 16:11) and if Satan can keep you out of His presence, he can steal your joy and the joy of the Lord is a primary source of your strength! (Nehemiah 8:10) Our Father won’t walk in darkness and James said, “For where there is envying and strife, there is confusion and every evil work.” (James 3:16) EVERY. Paul said this:
“So embrace, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, a spirit of mercy, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, and longsuffering. Bear with one another and forgive one another. If anyone has a quarrel against anyone, even as Christ forgave you, so you must do. And above all these things, embrace love, which is the bond of perfection. Let the peace of God, to which also you are called in one body, rule in your hearts. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” (Colossians 3:12-16)
Take it to Jesus. How often? As often as you need to! Don’t let anything or anyone steal your joy or your ability to connect with the Spirit of God in His presence. It’s worth fighting for, just remember who the real enemy is!