Follow the Leader

Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ. - 1 Cor 11:1 NKJV

Who do you follow?  Who do you look up to?  We all have someone or several people in our lives whom we look to for guidance in one way or another.  Are you that someone to a person in your life?  To be a leader is a big responsibility.  Paul, the writer of 1 Corinthians knew this.  He knew that people imitated him and heeded his teachings.  For this reason, Paul wanted to make one thing clear: that he should not be followed in word or in deed unless he was in accordance with what Jesus Christ would do or say.

I like this about Paul.  He humbly recognized his faults (Romans 7:14-25) but still took great care to do the right thing and he wanted to make sure that first and foremost people were following Jesus.  That is the essence of what Paul wanted.  He wanted people to follow Jesus.  I want to be like Paul.  If what I say or do does not line up with what God says in His Word, than I don't want to be followed.  Always test for yourself what I say, write or live, by the truth of God's word.

Following Jesus takes work.  Following Jesus is more than going to church and getting an emotional high with hands raised while singing a favorite praise song.  Yes, that is a part of worship, a part that I believe cannot fully take place without some relationship with God.  However, true worship is more than an emotional response to an inspirational message or song designed by the local church or a speaker to evoke a reaction in the hearers.  True worship is defined by how we lived our lives in the day to day grind.  True worship is seeking God through the pages of the Bible even when we don't feel like it sometimes.  True worship is reading a passage of scripture and applying it to our lives even though we don't like how it makes us feel. True worship is a life of surrender, following the true Leader, no matter the cost.

For further thought:

1) How is your walk with God?  Would someone following you be following God as well?

2) How many times per week do you examine your life in light of what the Bible says?  Following God means that we must know what He says to do.  How can we know if we don't read His word?

3) Who are you following?  Do you know for certain that what they do or preach aligns with God's ways?  Once again, we must know Jesus Christ to know if others are also following Him.  And how can we know this unless we dive into God's Word for ourselves?

Be Steadfast

Therefore my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.  - 1 Cor 15:58

This verse headed the devotional I read yesterday morning.  Interestingly enough, these words of God were exactly what I needed then ... and now.  As I struggle with certain aspects of my daily life, I am reminded how important it is that I not get defeated and "quit".   I am so thankful that God's word doesn't change to fit my emotions and attitudes!

My labor - in my marriage, in my family, in my friendships, in my ministry (wherever that may be) - is never in vain if I am doing it for the right reasons.   If I truly am doing all things for the glory of God, He will turn my efforts into something glorious for His name.  I know it.  After all, the bible says it.

Friend, what are you struggling with today?  What stronghold has you in its grip that needs to be surrendered to God?  Are you willing to seek God's counsel through prayer, His word or the advice of another mature trusted Christian and then heed what God is telling you to do?   It is hard work, but the good news is that God will help us complete the task.

"...He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;" - Philippians 1:6

That is good news, is it not?  The God of the universe, who saved your soul, will complete the good work He started in us.  He will make us to be more like Jesus.  We just need to let him.  Are you ready?

Glory in This

Last night, continuing through 1 Corinthians, I noticed a prevailing attitude being spoken about by Paul - pride ("puffed up"-1 Co 4:18, 19; 5:2).  So, remembering all the talk about foolishness in the previous chapters, I decided to go back and re-read all of the previous chapters.

Basically, the church in Corinth was a mess.  Paul had received word from Chloe (1 Cor 1:11) about all of the contentions going on, among other things.  There were divisions in the church because members were identifying themselves with church leaders instead of with Christ.  Apparently it was no wonder that there were contentions going on with all of the big heads running around!  No wonder Paul spoke so much of the foolishness of the world in contrast to the wisdom of God! (1 Co 1:18,20,21,23,25,27;2:14;3:19).

We need to protect ourselves day in and day out from pride creeping into our hearts and minds.  If we can protect ourselves from pride, we can help in protecting our churches from division.  Remember that only by pride comes contention.  (Prov 13:10)  How can we protect ourselves?  Paul gives us the answer as he quotes Jeremiah the prophet:

1 Cor 1:3 That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.

Jeremiah 9:23-24 Thus saith the Lord, let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: but let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exerciseth lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the Lord.

Friends, we are all guilty of getting "puffed" up with pride at times.  We think our opinions are right or that our new ideas are the best.  We even sometimes praise ourselves for having certain spiritual gifts when we wouldn't have them without God anyway.  We can even get big heads over our bible knowledge as compared to someone else.  Watch out!

God is the only one worthy of our praise. He is perfect and never changing, the provide of ALL that we have and the keeper of our souls.  How are you getting to know God better each day?  That is His delight.

Foolish or not?

"I'm not a smart man, but I know what love is." - Forrest Gump

What if all of us were as smart as Forrest Gump?  Seriously.  Forrest may not have been a smart man, but I bet to God he was a genius.  I love his innocence, untainted by worldly intelligence.  What would the world be like if everyone was like Forrest?

But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty: (1 Cor 1:27)

Do you think you are wise?  Think again.  I used to think I was wise, but the more I get to know who God is, the less I think of myself.  God is so cool in that He thinks so different than me.  To God, the foolish are wise, the weak are strong and the poor are rich.  How incredible!  What if we never get over our own foolishness?

For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. (1 Cor 1:18)

If we never get over our foolishness and believe the unbelievable (namely, Jesus' resurrection for our sins) we will first of all perish and second, never have the power of God.   Oh, the power of God to those who believe!

I thank Him for saving me from a literal hell through my belief in Him, but I also thank Him for the power He gives me in my life to overcome the obstacles and strongholds that try to bring me down.  I don't like being a fool, but I will gladly be a fool for Him.  Won't you?

NOTE: I had, at least in my mind, a more eloquent post than this prepared.  Somehow, my computer locked up and I had to rewrite.  Needless to say, I was devastated when I lost my work.   Maybe that was God's way of showing me that my best work is not necessarily what He wants me to say.