Harmony

Week of July 29

Harmony

I Corinthians 13:8-13

Day 1: On Sunday, we were invited to reflect on this summer series. What was your response? Have you found yourself living out a principle or verse? Does a challenging phrase keep coming to your mind or attitude? Here are some series’ truths or phrases:  

·       I Corinthians 13:1-13. I will show you the most excellent way. 

·       We’ve been given gifts, abilities and experiences to put into use for the sake of the church.   

·       When we don’t see eye to eye, can we still walk side by side.  

·       Having self-awareness is understanding your preferences.   

·       There are different categories of preferences: essential, important and trivial.  Paul tells us to love in all of them.  

·       We often judge people by their actions and judge ourselves by our intentions.  

·       Actions without love in our lives are like clanging, irritating cymbals.   

Which of these principles is easiest to live by? Which of these are most challenging to you? Ask God to help you grow in that area. Then take time to thank God for planting a truth that you needed to hear and ask Him to continue to form you into a person who loves. He’s not done with you nor any of us. 

Day 2: Have you seen a tuning fork? It’s a U-shared, two-pronged metal instrument that when struck, produces a pure musical tone at a constant pitch. Musicians use it to get in tune in preparation for performing a piece together. An orchestra does not get on the same pitch by tuning themselves to each other. They tune themselves according to a single source, the tuning fork. At the beginning of this series, we read this passage in I Corinthians 1:10-13. Now read I Cor 2:6-10. We all find wisdom and truth in God through the Holy Spirit because of our relationship with Jesus. God is our “tuning fork” (our source) and learning to listen to the Holy Spirit is how we “tune” our hearts and minds to be “in tune” to the consistent truth of God’s heart and mind. One example of “tuning in” is recognizing the Holy Spirit when you are searching for the way of love. Conversely, reflect on how and when you “tune” yourself by something other than our true source.  

Day 3: When dinner is ready on the table and the kids are still playing on the backyard swing set, it’s time to come in. One time when Iexplained this tomy four-year-old, it went something like this, “Hey buddy, it’s time for dinner. We can come out and play after dinner.” Instead of jumping off the swing and heading to the back porch, he ran for the slide. This went on for a few minutes. Then I took another approach. I lovingly grabbed him, picked him up and brought him into the house. I’m not sure if that was the best parenting strategy, but we did all eat dinner together that night. Read I Cor. 13:11-13. At some point, we are to learn to put our childish ways behind us. Since we all have the ability to choose, we will always be tempted to choose the childlike way of what is easy, less, harmful, or just selfish. When God calls to us to step toward a person in love, do we stop ourselves, go, listen, and serve? Or do we keep on swinging on the swing? Living out love that is patient and kind, a love that protects, trusts and hopes for can only be done when we step out of our childish ways. How can this help you today?  

Day 4: Read John 12:23-26. A kernel has to die to produce a multitude of wheat. This is how love works. It is meant to multiply. Loving people produce more loving people. If we seek to live for ourselves, that is all that we will get. But if we follow Jesus and give love away, we grow love. Where is love being multiplied in your life? Refrain from shame or blame when answering. Do you see evidence of love, a love that God daily and freely gives to you, making a difference in your family, among your friends, at work or in your small group? Here may be a harder question to answe; How are the people in your life loving others because of the love you’ve shown to them? Consider the multiplication of love as you go about your day today. “Spirit, help me to notice the person in front of me. Show me how I can love them in such a way that inspires love.” 

Day 5: Reflect on the last two passages we’ve read this week. I Cor 13: 11-13 and John 12:23-26. There’s the act of love and the act of dying to oneself. How are those related? How does becoming selfless promote love? One tangible response to dying to oneself is through baptism. In baptism, we relate to the person of Jesus as He was submersed in the water (as unto death) and raised to life (new life in Christ) as we commit to follow after Him submitting to “tune” our life to Jesus. Can you relate to this through your own baptism or a time when you specifically drew a line in the sand and committed to follow after Jesus? Has that moment produced a change or transformation in your heart and in the way you react and interact with others in love? What is something in your life you know you need to die to so God can raise up new thoughts or actions in that area? Tell a trusted friend of your new commitment and ask the Holy Spirit to remind you, strengthen you and equip you for the task ahead. Go live out love!   

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Week of July 22

Harmony

Selfless Love in a Selfie World

Day 1: It’s hard to be selfless. I know. As my wife has pointed out to me, even when I try to be ‘unselfish,’ I can do it for selfish reasons! In ourselves even our best is like filthy rags because our motivations reveal our true intentions. Jesus showed us a selfless life. Not only that, we have the Holy Spirit in us to give us the ability to live selflessly. We have been given selflessness and the power to be selfless, so let’s live it out like we should. As Jack pointed out, a starting point for seeing this formed in us is to acknowledge Jesus’ selflessness for our sake. This week, let us not look past Christ’s unselfishness, accept and believe his selflessness given to us, and take steps to live in the selflessness of the Spirit. Meditate on II Corinthians 5:21 as you listen to or sing Amazing Love (You Are My King). Worship God for what you have been given in Christ. 

Day 2: Read Philippians 2:1-13 noticing Jesus’ attitude. What was Jesus’ original position (vs 6)? What are the actions he took (vs 5-8)? What was the result (vs 9-11)? Paul is calling us to have the same attitude. What will my actions be if I have this attitude of Christ? What will be the result? Think about Jesus’ words that whoever wants to be great should learn to be the servant of all. How is Jesus’ attitude similar or different to how I relate to God and live toward others? Choose one relationship in your life to answer that question. Jesus is secure himself and guarantees security. Being secure helps me to lay down my interests. Notice Philippians 2:12-13. God working in us, giving us the desire and power (NLT version). This demonstration is evidence of a sincere faith and our salvation. I will lay down my interests and put someone else’s interests first. 

Day 3: Read John 4:27-41. Why did Jesus refuse the disciples’ food? Jesus was probably hungry, tired, and thirsty (4:6-7). What was sustaining Jesus? Do you remember times of joy and encouragement when you believed that you were doing what God wanted you to do? That is the Holy Spirit in you. What was Jesus’ instruction to the disciples (4:35)? Jesus looked outward. Look outward and be perceptive to the need of someone you encounter today, thinking of how you could show selfless love to them. Consider a strained relationship. Is there a person by just the mention of their name, your initial response is to move away not towards them? 

Day 4: Read John 13:1-5. What is the insight we gain from verse three as to how Jesus was able to serve the disciples in this way? In Christ, what power do you have, where did you come from, where are you going? Compare Christ’s security in his position to Philippians 2:6. Security in what Christ has accomplished and given to you is the foundation for selflessness. You can find rest knowing you are cared for; now you can care for others. Jesus did something that no one else wanted to do to meet a real need for purpose of showing the extent of God’s love (13:1). Do I know where I have come from, where I am going? Am I secure that I am in God’s love? Ask God for a way you can serve someone today. Find something that others do not want to do and do it for them. Actually write it down and make a point to accomplish it whether they know it was you or not. You don’t need their appreciation or any response from them. You can do it because you are loved, and in doing so, you communicate God’s gracious love.   

Day 5: Read Matthew 26:59-68. Jesus did not defend himself or deliver himself from their false accusations and mistreatment. He knew it was necessary for his Father’s will to be accomplished for our salvation. To do his Father’s will, he was willing to allow himself to be misunderstood, falsely accused, injustice done to him, mocked, tortured, and killed. We will not experience anything like Jesus did, but can we have this same attitude in our day-to-day experience? Can we be so oriented to following Jesus and loving others that we are willing to be wronged? Our natural hearts are not this way, but Christ’s heart is. To know and become like Jesus is possible as we walk in a daily relationship with him. With the guidance of the Holy Spirit, let us pursue selfless love. It is possible. 

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Week of July 15

Harmony

The Highest Goal

Day 1. Last week, we focused on the first few verses of 1 Corinthians 13. Paul wrote that even the best spiritual gifts, when exercised apart from love, are meaningless. He writes: “I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal,” (v1) “I would be nothing,” (v2) and “I would have gained nothing” (v3). Read verses 4-5. How can you test yourself to see if you are motivated by love? Are you patient with others? Are you kind with those you disagree with? Are you jealous? Boastful? Proud? Rude? Is it all about you getting your way? Is it more important to you to be right than to be loving? Consider your motivations. Acting in love desires to build up one another, not tear them down. It desires harmony, not dissention. Think about your last week. If you had any disagreements, even on social media, how would you characterize your response? Did you see patience and kindness in your attitude? Take note of those interactions and pray specifically, “Holy Spirit, what needs to change in me for me to give more loving responses in future opportunities today and this week?”  

Day 2. On Sunday, Cory mentioned the Greek word for patience is “makrothymeo.” This word means both patience and understanding along with a refusal to retaliate. See how James 1:19 correlates. Think about that for a moment - slow to anger and quick to understand. We are living in a world of extremes, a world of us vs. them, a world where we are quick to excuse our own flaws while demonizing those we disagree with. What would happen if I turned the tables and sought to understand rather than to be understood? What if I snuffed the short fuse and took time to listen? Consider a person in your life with whom you have the most differences.  

Day 3. Read Matthew 7:1-5 We tend to judge other people by their actions, and to judge ourselves by our intentions. Reread that sentence. Ouch! Not one of us is perfect, and we will often look to the failure in others in order to justify our own sinfulness, but Jesus says, “The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.” So, be patient with others as you would have them be patient with you. Show grace to others as you expect them to show grace to you. “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God's glorious standard.” (Rom. 3:23) As you go about your week, pay attention to the things that trigger you. Is it a specific person (co-worker, sibling, boss, employee, spouse, neighbor) or around a recurring topic? What step can I take to insert a buffer before I respond or react? Would that help me to take a step in becoming the person I hope to become?  

Day 4. Read John 13:34-35. Would anyone know your faith by observation? Consider yesterday or today. You may be familiar with the Brennan Manning Quote, “The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and walk out the door and deny Him by their lifestyle.” Love is the basic building block of our faith because God is love. Jesus invites us to imitate him in love because He first loved us. “But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” (Rom 5:8). We can only give what we have received. How has God shown love to you? Where are you overwhelmed with gratitude because of what God has done in your life? Out of the fullness of that love, we show love to others.  

Day 5. Read 1 Corinthians 13:4-5 again. Is this the kind of Jesus that people see in you? Does your family see love, patience, kindness? Or do they see judgement and condemnation more often? Are you holding grudges or showing forgiveness and mercy? If you haven’t already, pick up a copy of Bob Goff’s book “Everybody Always” from the Next Steps Center ($10) and read through chapter 6. In this chapter, he gives an example of how to love a difficult person. When you encounter that person who hard to love, just give them 30 seconds of kindness. In that 30 seconds, pray for the Spirit to give you the grace you need to love them. Then do it again. Eventually, those brief times will add up as the Holy Spirit helps you. You may find yourself more routinely seeking the Holy Spirit and finding kindness. In doing so, you will be stepping into Paul’s invitation of patient love.  

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Week of July 8

Harmony

The Highest Goal

Day 1: Do you have a bucket list? What kinds of things are on it? Bucket lists typically focus on once in a lifetime experiences or places we dream of visiting. If we have a bucket list, we have put thought into it. Maybe you aren’t a bucket list kind of person; but have you considered a “be” or “becoming” list? What would be on that list? What kind of person do you want to be? What would you consider your highest goal as a person? Take several minutes to think about these questions and jot down your thoughts. Our vision at LSCC is for all of us is “taking steps to know and become like Jesus.” So, maybe for you, maybe for me, our bucket list of “be” and “becoming” would include moving towards a person who intentionally and increasingly is thinking, sounding, and living more like the person of Jesus. Love is the most excellent way (1 Cor 12:31) The apostle Paul is telling us his highest goal, restating who Jesus is and how he lived, and who Jesus was emulating, God the Father. There is nothing we can discover about God, nothing we can discover about Jesus, that isn’t also loving. If we are becoming more like Jesus, we are becoming more loving. Thus, the question becomes, am I becoming more like love? If so, how and where?

Day 2: Read Mark 12:30-31.In the book Everybody, Always, Bob Goff says, “Jesus saw loving God and loving our neighbors as one inseparable mandate. They were tied for first in Jesus’ mind. He knew we couldn’t love God if we don’t love the people He surrounds us with.” Love is an action, it can be and is to be, seen. Giving love isn’t merely for those who love me or are like me. Our love is for all people: the enemy, stranger, persecutor, foreigner, the helpless and the opinionated. Love is an attitude, a posture of the heart that leads us more and more to “in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you.” This is a foundational, fundamental part of following Jesus, being Christian, knowing and becoming more like Him. Take time to pray for those in your life who you find it difficult to love. Then, find an opportunity to go love them today even in some small way.      

Day 3: Read Matt 5:44, John 15:12, 17.Jesus didn’t say it would be easy, he said it would work. When we look at the life and teachings of Jesus we see undeniable, uncontrollable, unconditional, and yes, even a reckless love. Take time today to listen to the song “Reckless Love”by Cory Asbury. As you listen to the words think about how the song describes the love of God. How this love acts. What this love looks like. This is how we are to love- as we have been loved. Am I willing to make love my highest goal? Am I willing to choose the way of love even if it could make me uncomfortable, even if it is puts me in a vulnerable place or means I will be misunderstood? When we choose to love, it changes who we are becoming.

Day 4: Read 1 Cor. 13: 1-3.What’s your “thing”? What are you good at? What do you have (or do) that is a gift to others? Maybe you’ve taken a Strengths Findertest or something equivalent. What are your strengths or gifts? Do you have a way with words? Do you have a way of seeing solutions when everyone else is bogged down in the problem? Do you comfort those who are hurting, grieving or lonely? Do you have an ability of bringing opposing views together? Write down a few of your strengths. Now insert them into these three verses and read again. Without being rooted and motivated in love, all these things cease to matter. It’s a sobering thought. Look at the gifts/strengths you wrote down. Do they matter? What are they rooted in? Is there desire for approval or recognition? Is there an agenda of some kind? Spend time in honest reflection. Pray: Father, I ask that you bring truth to me. Help me be self-aware and to look honestly at these things. Give me courage and strength, not only to see, but to change. Help me to recognize whether selfless love is present when my gifts are used. “Nothing can be changed until it is faced.” James Baldwin

Day 5: Re-read I Cor. 13:1-3.When we respond, even though it may be for others, isn’t rooted in and motivated by love, it is all for nothing. On top of that, our behavior actually becomes an annoyance, an irritant and a hindrance. The descriptive words Paul uses are in effect the opposite of what the gift was intended to produce. It’s off pitch, it’s noisy, irritating. It becomes more harmful than helpful. Can I recognize when what I’m doing is off? What clues or unbecoming behaviors help me to become aware? Do I have daily and weekly patterns to self-reflect and to allow God to speak truth about my heart, my attitude, and my behaviors? Do I have people in my life (community) that through relationship can speak truth to me? To gain some inspiration consider the book “Everybody, Always: Becoming love in a world full of setbacks and difficult people”by Bob Goff as a small group. Through small group community that we have the best opportunity to flesh out becoming like Jesus, becoming love. If you aren’t in a small group, consider starting or joining one. Contact Patrick at Patrick.hukriede@lscckc.org   

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Week of July 1

Harmony

In Spite of Differences

Day 1: What we believe has the power to both unify and divide us. What we believe about politics, religion, and social issues, both brings us closer to people we agree with and separates us from people we disagree with. It takes just one look at our Facebook feed to know this to be true. Read 1 Corinthians 12:12-31.What happens when Christ followers disagree with one another? Do we “unfriend” them? Do we leave the church? Do we put on fake smiles and pretend to be nice to one another? Does Jesus call us to something better? Take some time to reflect and take an inventory. Are you willing to be in fellowship with people who believe or vote differently than you? Write down your thoughts. Do you think you could walk beside them even while not seeing eye to eye? 

Day 2: Read 1 Corinthians 1:10. What does it mean to be a Christian? Is it a combination of Bible knowledge, doing good things, and loving people? Or, is it having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ? If it is the later, what does it even mean to have a relationship with Jesus? How can we know a man who lived 2000 years ago? Take a moment and consider: what is the core of your faith? How do you get to know someone? Usually, it requires conversation, listening, finding out who they are, and letting them get to know you. We can’t have a relationship with someone without knowing anything about them. This is why our theology (knowledge of God) matters. It is for this reason that we are united in what we believe. Go to www.lscckc.org/beliefs and read it through. How do these statements strike you? If you agree with them why? If you don’t agree with them, that’s ok. I’d like to invite you on a journey to follow Jesus, to get to know Him, and to explore the tough questions. With whom can you discuss your questions? Are some of your questions answered during Sunday services or in your small group? Regardless of where you are at today, stay in pursuit of the questions you hold today.  

Day 3: Yesterday, we took a look at how our beliefs unite us as Jesus’ followers. Today, let’s consider how the things we believe can divide us.Read 1 Corinthians 8:1-3. While knowledge of God is crucial to having a relationshipwith Him, knowledge can also be a pitfall for us. It is so easy for our perceived knowledge of God to, “puff us up.” We can easily think we’ve got things all figured out and that anyone who disagrees with us is either ignorant or stupid. How silly it is that we mere mortals can often be tempted to think that we have the eternal God of the universe all figured out. (Isaiah 55:8-9) God is so vast and beyond our understanding, that a better for us to approach our knowledge of Him with humility and others knowledge of Him with grace. In dealing with differences of theology, could it be that there might be times when God invites us to walk side by side even when we don’t see eye to eye? Is there someone in your life that disagrees with you theologically? Take some time to pray for them or maybe offer to pray with them. Pray also that God would strengthen unity as he continues to reveal Himself to both of you today.  

Day 4: Read 1 Corinthians 13. It doesn’t matter how right we are, if we don’t have love, our knowledge is worthless. Our theology is only as good as its ability to help us love well. Right knowledge of God and His word will always lead us to love. Take out a piece of paper and write down these words: impatient, unkind, jealous, boastful, proud, rude, demands its own way, irritable, keeps record of being wronged, rejoices about injustice, gives up, loses faith, and hopeless. This is what our lives look like without love, even if we believe all the right things about God. Love doesn’t demand its own way (v. 5a). Keep this list with you today as a reminder of how desperately we are in need of God’s love in us and through us.

Day 5: Read Colossians 3:12-17. In order for there to be unity in the church, there must first be forgiveness. Is there someone in your life that you need to ask to forgive you? Is there someone in your life that you need to forgive? Take a full five minutes to consider these questions. We, the church, are God’s chosen people, and He declares us holy and dearly loved. Pray that the peace of Christ would rule in our hearts, and that we would be united in the peace and love of Jesus. As you go about your day today, remember that everything you do, you do in the name of the Lord Jesus. Refer back to this statement at the end of the day. How did you represent Jesus today? We are his body and His representatives to the world.

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Week of June 24

Harmony

Part Of The Whole

Day 1:   Preferences. The church of Corinth had experienced several different pastors, leaders, teachers AND they had their favorites. Paul says they are acting like spiritual babies. Read I Corinthians 1:11-13 and 3: 1-4.  Everybody has preferences. What fits us, our history, our lens, wiring, personality. It can be what we bring to the band and contribute, or it can lead us all to want or believe we should be the drummer.  Can I contribute my gifts and or preferences in a way that is for or makes better the common good? If so, how? Having a preference or point of view is not a bad thing; it’s certainly not a call to be silent. It's in how it's expressed (non-verbals count) and for what purposes. One of the most toxic things in church is to attribute our preference to God. That is to say, to wrap God up in my opinion, claim my way is God's way, the right way, what He wants. Have you ever had someone end the conversation altogether by saying, "God told me to_________?” Is there an area of your life that preferences have gotten unhealthy, that you need to repent of in how you express your preferences? Do you have community, or have you become isolated in your thoughts with no feedback or accountability? Ask the Holy Spirit to show you.  

Day 2:    Read I Corinthians 8:1-13. Values and convictions. The issue centered around eating meat sacrificed to an idol. Some believed it was wrong while others thought it was no big deal. These issues of values and convictions led to divisions, factions, and schisms. The issues Paul addresses were specific to them at that time, yet we have our own issues with their own underpinnings. We also have values and convictions which we hold to and often attach God to based more upon our personal experiences than theology. Which preference do you tend to live out of? Why or where do you think these come from?   

Day 3:   Read Luke 9:23 I know in my own life what I value and find most important to me often gets in the way of this verse being lived out in my life – actually shaping my values, attitudes and behavior. What is most important to you? Really, how do you relate to others, spend your time and money? These things have a way of revealing what is often most important. Were you ok with your answer? What tends to be more important to you, being right or being kind? To be understood or to understand? To judge others or to join with Jesus in His view of others? Am I more concerned about being able to express what truth I have to others, or in how my expressions of truth comes across to others? Are you willing to value relationship and unity as more important than getting your way? Humility before God, commitment to love and relationship, grace and compassion all should work to inform or shape how we assert our preferences and opinions.  When it comes to living in harmony and unity, we do not always have to see eye-to-eye in order to walk side-by-side. 

Day 4:    Self-awareness plays a big role in understanding and communicating our preferences well. To be self-aware is to know yourself as you really are. Getting to know yourself inside and out is a continuous journey of participating with God as He peels back layers of who we once were and transforms us to be more like His Son. Self-awareness means spending time reflecting on your heart, attitudes, beliefs, behavior, and dealing with the stuff that keeps taking you to places you don’t desire to go. Too often we don’t take time to do this and instead stuff our emotions, escape reality our preferred way or trample on our hearts. So how self-aware are you?  We are all on a different journey. What God is seeking to teach me most likely is not what He is wanting to teach you. We need to open up our hearts to God and focus on our own heart and transformation. It’s a great exercise in learning to trust God’s transformation process of others.  Where are you in the self-awareness journey? What is your next step? (For more on self-awareness buy the book Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves.) 

Day 5:   Read 1 Corinthians 8:1-2. “While knowledge makes us feel important, it is love that strengthens the church. Anyone who claims to know all the answers does not really very much.” Take time today reflecting on these verses and quote.  You may want to walk along a path in the woods or get alone in a quiet place or think deeply about this by digging deeper with other resources. You may already know where you need to apply this verse into your life, take that step of trust and do it. We all have different pathways that allow us to hear God speaking to our hearts. Walking in the woods may not be yours, but it’s important to discover how or in what environments or practices you most easily hear God.  

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Week of June 17

Harmony: Different Together

Do Your Part

Day 1: How do you see yourself today? Does it line up with how God sees you? Ephesians 2:10 says, "For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago." Through Jesus, the dark, old, sinful parts of us are dead. We are loved, highly valued children in His eyes. That is how God sees you and me. Find a few quiet moments and let that sink in. Use one of these ideas or come up with your own:  

·       Recite the verse 10 times 

·       Turn it into a prayer 

·       Have someone read it aloud to you, and you do the same for them  

These can help us to exchange the perspectives we have about ourselves for the perspective God has of us.  

 Day 2: On Sunday Travis provided some background on the church in the city of Corinth and the letter that was written to them. Paul, the author of the letter, was not the center figure of this church; he was just one figure. He was a contributor because he used his strengths, stepping into God's purpose for him to guide and advise this particular community. This particular community in Corinth was also just one church in the region. Read I Corinthians 12:4-11. Do you know what gifts the Holy Spirit has given you? If so, how have you used them in the church and with your family? How has that changed you? If you are unsure, consider a book by Erik Rees called SHAPE. Talk to a Jesus follower who you trust and ask them how it has impacted their life and how they have seen your gifts impact yours as well. Using our gifts is how we will find the good works He planned for us long ago.  

 Day 3: Are you in an orchestra? Our current message series, Harmony: Different Together, reminds us that our life isn’t meant to be lived with us in the center; rather we are part of something bigger. Read I Corinthians 12:4-12. The Spirit gives different gifts for the purpose of following Jesus. It’s easy to get confused in thinking the church is a building or the paid staff. However, the role of the pastors and staff is to help those who come to thebuilding to be the church. Yes, pastors do have an important role to play, but so do you and others in the church. Anyone who calls LSCC home is a part of the church. If our church were an orchestra, a pastor may be a conductor, however his job is still to train, equip, and coordinate the musicians. Consider this important question that we should all ask ourselves: Are we playing an instrument or watching in the audience? If not, what has kept you from playing an instrument right now? If you are, how are you doing? Is your playing helping others? Is it filling you? Have others been inspired to pick up an instrument because you are playing yours?  

Day 4: Read John 10:10-11. What kind of a life does Jesus offer us? What kind of a shepherd is Jesus for us? He invites us to live a meaningful and significant life, a full life. Flip to John 15:5-8. How are we to live this life? Notice that we do not bear fruit on our own, but remain connected to Him. This kind of life comes through Jesus. As we recall from this week's message, we are all to play our part, some part in a "larger story." We “play our instrument” in expressing love for our sake and the sake of others. When we play our part, Jesus will produce the fruit, as long as we do not become weary and choose to remain faithful in Him. Pray and ask God to show you today how your strengths and abilities can be put in play to love and serve others. 

Day 5: Nike says to "Just do it," and we agree. If an obstacle is in your way, just do it anyways. Read Hebrews 10:22-25. Let’s consider how we can spur one another toward love and good deeds. At the age of 23, I was dating someone who lived 90 miles away from me. Not only did I intend to visit her on many weekends, I actually did visit her many weekends. My intention was clear. I was motivated to get to know this person and to spend time with her. I rearranged my daily life to make those trips. When our motivation is clear, we can climb over obstacles to reach our destination. Where are you at spiritually? What is God stirring and working at in you? Is it to find a part, to practice your part, or try a different part? Or is He speaking something else to you? Whatever it is, just do it. Even if its messy, hard or confusing, keep at it, and do it anyway.

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Week of June 10

Harmony: Different Together

Part of the Whole

Day 1. Read Matthew 16:13-18. When we talk about the body of Christ, we are talking about the church. Who does Jesus say the church is? On Sunday, Cory taught about this. He said, “The belief that Jesus is the Son of the Living God is the foundation of the Church.” The Greek word Ekklesia, usually translated “church,” actually means gathering. The church is the gathering of believers. Does that change your perspective on what it means to go to church? The location isn’t the church. The people are. We are the church. We are the body of Christ. Think about the ways you are representing Jesus outside of Sunday service. Have you ever thought about church in this way? How would this change your perspective on Sunday mornings? Spend some time in prayer. Ask God to give you wisdom to know what steps you can take to become more like Jesus to those around you.

 Day 2. Read I Corinthians 12:4-6. We all are aware that each of us was created uniquely. We are different genders, ethnicities and have different personalities, strengths, and weaknesses. There are no two of us exactly alike. It should not be surprising, then, to think that God has created us spiritually unique. He has gifted us uniquely and works differently in each of us. When a ballerina takes the stage, one would expect to see a beautiful performance with everything working together as a part of a well-rehearsed dance. Every part of the body moves in harmony, complementing every other part to make something much more delicate and graceful than simple toe-tapping. Every part of the dance is choreographed beautifully, the whole body in sync, each part working together, balancing the dancer and keeping her moving. This is how the body of Christ is designed. How do you view the church? Do you see it as a work of art or as a building? When with other believers this week, pay attention to how each of us can work together to reflect Jesus and can be the church.  

Day 3: Read I Corinthians 12:17-18. Each of us has a role to play that, when in sync with the body, has greater potential than any of us alone. Imagine the dancer poised and ready, anticipating the music’s downbeat. The performance begins as the bows are gently pulled across the strings of the violins. The dancer lifts her hands above her head and begins her routine. As she takes her first step, she stumbles and falls to the ground. She has two left feet. Can you imagine? What was previously such breathtaking potential now lies in an embarrassed heap on the stage floor. If the right foot decides it wants to be a left foot, it will cause the whole body to stumble. Are you fulfilling your role or do you long for another? If you are currently playing a role, how are you affecting the church?

 Day 4. Paul writes in I Cor 12:27: “All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it.” The body of Christ is “bigger than me.” Consider a personal experience where you were part of a “bigger than me” scenario. A team? Your marriage? Your family? A workgroup or partnership? You might find yourself working on a project with someone you wouldn’t normally even talk to, but you are united in something bigger that causes the differences that normally keep you separate to matter less. God has invited us to be part of something bigger than ourselves. Isn’t that awesome? God has invited you into His plan – to fulfill your role in the growth of His Church and the advance of His Kingdom. Do you see Jesus’ church as “bigger than me”? Ask God to show you a bigger version of church than you’ve ever seen before. 

Day 5: If the church is the gathering of believers, how do individuals affect the health of the body? We each have an important role, and it’s good for us to learn how to best serve within the body. Read I Corinthians 12:22-27. What does this tell us? Learn what role suits you but be careful not to think that your role is more or less important than others because all parts are necessary! Also, consider your motivation. Are you content to just go to church, or is your desire to be the church? Consider ways that you can make a tangible difference in the world around you! Pick up the Summer Guide at the Next Steps Center for ideas to serve. How about VBS later in June? Or consider learning more by attending a three-week class on SHAPE on Monday evenings starting June 18 (see the program for details or contact Patrick Hukriede at patrick.hukriede@lscckc.org).

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Week of June 3

Harmony: Different Together

Who are the people God wants me to love, serve and share with?  

Day 1: Read Acts 18:1-6 about Paul’s visit to Corinth. Paul saw the receptivity and opportunity to share with the Corinthians and took it. If you read on in chapter 18, you find many people began following Jesus. Paul stayed in Corinth almost two years, working alongside of them, sharing his faith, and helping to make disciples. Paul’s approach was unique to the religious cultures and people of this eclectic city. What are the environments and who are the people that you have a unique understanding of, that you are a part of? Is it a team you’re on, a work environment, your neighborhood? Everyone we know is someone we can love and serve. Every environment you’re in is an opportunity unique to your life where you can love and serve. Which relationship(s) would you like to be more intentional?  

 

How do I love others while in disagreement with them?  

Day 2: The city of Corinth was a thriving city by the sea attracting people from the surrounding region. Just like us, the people of Corinth had differing experiences, views, cultures, and religious backgrounds. Diversity is crucial but often invites tension and division. What arena of life today do you experience division? Are you on a side or somewhere in the middle? What has most informed your decision to be on a side? Can you love the people on the other side? Read Matt. 12:25. A kingdom divided cannot stand. Do you have opinions that stand in the way of your ability or willingness love and harmonize with others? Whether in politics, at work, home, or church, Jesus points us the posture and tone we are to have with others. Read John 13:34-35.How do you apply these verses with openly debated issues?  Or what about arguments you have in your own mind (about others)? What are 1-2 practical ways you can apply these verses to specific people this week?  

 

What does harmony sound like?  

Day 3: In I Cor 1:10 Paul writes, “that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.” On Sunday, Cory used the term harmony, which is best understood in the context of music. Different parts, different tones that make onepleasingarrangement. In an orchestra, consider the instruments – violins, flutes, clarinets, horns, cymbals... Hearing most in isolation can be enjoyable. However, when played in unison, a whole new experience unfolds. Take 10 minutes to listen to a well-known symphony. Try Beethoven Symphony No 6. Sit back in a chair and close your eyes. As you listen, notice the harmony…every instrument speaking its own voice yet playing together. That’s the beauty of harmony and how we are called to live in our homes, schools, places of business, and as a church.  

 

What is your responsibility to the group?  

Day 4: reflect back to the orchestra from yesterday? How easy would it be for this group of musicians to get off track? One section or individual with a different desire or agenda dramatically changes the experience for everyone. Eves drop on Jesus’ prayer the night before He dies. Read John 17:20-23.What amazes you about Jesus’ prayer? Consider that for a few minutes. Does it give you a different glimpse of God? One point, maybe the main point Jesus was making had to do with unity. As He and the Father are in step with each other, Jesus wants us to be in step with him and one another. Notice the reason or the why, “…so that the world will know.” Considering your role in a larger group – church, small group, family. What is your responsibility to the group in making harmony? What part are you currently playing or could you play?  

 

Others’ interests above our own. 

Day 5: When we are insecure in our identity, we’re at risk of putting ourselves first, of securing power or position, asserting our own rights or opinions. Read Philippians 2:1-11. What was Jesus’ attitude and behavior? Secure in his identity, he lived in humility and self-sacrificing love. If we are united with Jesus (as He is with the Father), how are we to live? There are several practical and specific ways to demonstrate love and unity: do nothing out of selfish ambition, consider others, look beyond your own interests to the interests of others. Here is a sobering quote from Oswald Chambers. “Am I getting nobler, better, more helpful, more humble or am I getting more self-assertive, more deliberately determined to have it my own way? In the context of unity with others and putting them first, Paul is pointing us to Jesus and how he lived, the attitudes and behaviors we are to take on as his followers.   

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