Saturday, September 5, 2009

Devotional - At The Heart Of It All

Good morning everyone. It is a fine Saturday morning and I feel great after 8 hours sleep and now waking in the presence of the Lord. It is good to open your eyes each morning to this realization:

Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.

They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22-23)

Even when the Spirit has to bring correction it is done with love and compassion. This is also what we need to take away from our look at the two letters to the Corinthians. Paul loved those people and desired to see them enter into maturity in Christ. There were things in their lives preventing this. His correction was not out of anger because they dared come against his authority but instead it was like a parent correcting for the purpose of training.

It is obvious that Paul understood the responsibility that went with his authority. He had the power of God flowing through him but it was never for his own benefit because it was enabled by love. Without love it would have led him to be abusive. This is the man who was inspired to teach:

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13)

Despite all he had achieved, his great revelations, and the power that flowed through him Paul remained grounded by the heart of the gospel:

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)

Paul would not have been used by God in the way he was if he had not grasped the full understanding of God's love and the responsibility to love everyone in this same power. Paul was trusted with much and remained humbled because of his great revelation of God's grace. This was the reason Paul was able to correct with love and understand his responsibility as a leader:

This is why I write these things when I am absent, that when I come I may not have to be harsh in my use of authority—the authority the Lord gave me for building you up, not for tearing you down. (2 Corinthians 13:10)

You have to wonder if some of us leaders have had the same revelation of Jesus' love as Paul had received. The authority that has been given to the leaders and the ministers is for building up the Body, not for tearing it down. As Paul operated in this authority for this purpose, he had this revelation of love burning through every corner of his being:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)

That last line should always be in the vision of those with leadership authority in the Body; it always protects, always trusts. always hopes, always perseveres. Even correction has as its motivation the desire to see a person built up, becoming the best they can be, experiencing the most of Christ that they can experience.

Enough of serving Jesus with our limitations; we are falling flat. We need a fresh revelation of his love and how that births grace in us. We need our eyes opened to our weak attempt to do what he has done. We need his authority and power birthed in us from the motivation of love. I want to serve him more and more but I am empty and broken. Lord pour out your power so that we can see, understand, embrace our death and gain life in you. Correct the falsehood in us, give us the strength to let it be revealed, wash us clean and then fill us to overflowing with your love and grace.

Paul left the Corinthians with this as I leave you with this:

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. (2 Corinthians 13:14)

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