The Name of Jesus

Bible:

And God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were carried away to the sick, and their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them. Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims.” Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this. But the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?” And the man in whom was the evil spirit leaped on them, mastered all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. And this became known to all the residents of Ephesus, both Jews and Greeks. And fear fell upon them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was extolled. Also many of those who were now believers came, confessing and divulging their practices. And a number of those who had practiced magic arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted the value of them and found it came to fifty thousand pieces of silver. So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily. Acts 19:11-20 ESV

This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. Acts 4:11-12 ESV

Reflection:

William was four years old, and he had gone to see a magic show. He loved it, and he wanted to be able to do magic tricks himself. William thought that the secret was in the magic words the magician had used. He took a one-dollar bill from his piggy bank and folded it up just as he had seen the magician do, and waved his hand and said, “Abracadabra!” But when he unfolded the money, it was still a one-dollar bill! It hadn’t magically changed into a one hundred-dollar bill. And when William tried to pull a rabbit out of his dad’s empty hat, saying, “Alakazaam!” the way the magician had didn’t make a rabbit appear in the hat. It stayed empty. His mother had to explain to him that the magician had been playing tricks on the audience, and that there was no power in the magic words.

Paul was doing some incredible things in the city of Ephesus through the name of Jesus. People were taking handkerchiefs or aprons that he had touched and bringing them to sick people, and the sick people were made well and evil spirits left them. Some people thought that the name of Jesus was a magic word, and seven men who were sons of a man named Sceva decided to try to do the same magic tricks they thought Paul was doing. They tried to get rid of an evil spirit that was hurting a man, and so they commanded it to come out of the man in Jesus’ name. But these men learned that the name of Jesus isn’t a magic word. The evil spirit said he knew Jesus, and knew about Paul, but, “who are you?” it asked them. Then the man with the evil spirit jumped on all seven men and beat them up badly. Other people realized that Paul hadn’t been doing magic tricks, but instead that he knew the almighty Jesus. They believed in Jesus, left their magic behind, and burned all their magic books in one big bonfire.

We know the power of Jesus’ name, and it’s not because of any magic tricks. Sometimes he answers our prayers to do extraordinary things, but we don’t use Jesus as a magician who makes all of our wishes come true. Jesus has the power to save us from death and the devil and all the forces of evil. He defeated them by dying on the cross and rising again from the dead. Jesus’ power is to bring us into his kingdom and protect us from all the evil forces that had been hurting us. We know and share the power of Jesus to forgive us and save us and be with us always.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for saving us from death and the devil, and for hearing our prayers and helping us. Amen.

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O Death, Where is Your Victory?

Bible:

I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
“O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. I Corinthians 15:50-57 ESV

How the oppressor has ceased,
the insolent fury ceased!

Sheol beneath is stirred up
to meet you when you come;
it rouses the shades to greet you,
all who were leaders of the earth;
it raises from their thrones
all who were kings of the nations.
All of them will answer
and say to you:
You too have become as weak as we!
You have become like us!
Your pomp is brought down to Sheol,
the sound of your harps;
maggots are laid as a bed beneath you,
and worms are your covers. Isaiah 14:8b, 9-11 ESV

Reflection:

Our second Bible reading is from the prophet Isaiah, looking ahead to the time when the king of Babylon would be judged by God for all the evil things he had done to the people of Israel and to other nations. God’s judgment on Babylon’s king was death, and Isaiah pictured his death as if Sheol, the place of the dead, was a person who stirred herself up to meet the dead king, and woke up all the other dead leaders of the world to taunt him. The other dead kings would say to the king of Babylon, “You are now as weak as we are! You are just like us! Your body is laid in the ground and covered with worms and maggots!” All the power and glory the king was completely defeated in his death.

Paul wrote to the Corinthians that death itself has been defeated by Christ. Paul taunted death, saying, “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” Once everyone had been under the power of death because of sin and the power of the law, but now Jesus has defeated death forever. Paul had just explained what would happen to people who die before Jesus returns, but now he went on to talk about people who will still be alive when that happens. How could our weak, sin-sick bodies possibly enter into eternal life? Paul said that not everyone will die before Jesus returns, but everyone will be changed. When the last trumpet sounds, people who are still alive and believe in Jesus will find their bodies changed into new, glorified bodies that will no longer be under the power of sin and death, but instead will live forever in God’s new world.

We still struggle with sin and with our sin-sick bodies, but we can be sure that this struggle won’t last forever. Someday we will be completely free, and we will fully know the victory that Jesus won over sin and death when he died on the cross and rose again. As we wait for that wonderful day, we know that we have God’s forgiveness through Jesus, and that he is with us every day to help us and to give us strength.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for winning the victory over sin and death for us. Amen.

Glorious New Bodies

Bible:

But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?” You foolish person! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. And what you sow is not the body that is to be, but a bare kernel, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body. For not all flesh is the same, but there is one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish. There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is of one kind, and the glory of the earthly is of another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory.

So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. I Corinthians 15:35-43 ESV

You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. Romans 8:9-11 ESV

Reflection:

Have you ever gone to visit a place and gotten a pressed penny as a souvenir? You put a penny into a machine, as well as some extra money, and turn the crank, and the machine presses and stretches the penny and gives it a new design. The penny you put in might be scratched and dirty and worn, but the pressed penny comes out shiny and new-looking, with a design picturing the place you are visiting. Pressed pennies were first made at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1892. Some people have tried to make pressed pennies by putting a penny on the railroad tracks and letting a passing train stretch it, but this is very dangerous! It takes more than 5000 pounds to stretch a penny. Some people think that using a penny press is illegal, but it’s actually perfectly okay to take an old penny and make it into something shiny and new to remember your trip by.

Paul wrote to the Corinthians to teach them about what kind of bodies they would have when they came out of their graves. Some of them thought that such a thing would be impossible, and that was why they didn’t believe in the resurrection of the dead. They knew that dead bodies decay in the ground and eventually they are gone. How could God bring new life out of that? But Paul said that this argument was foolish. He pointed out that God brings new life out of small, dry seeds that are planted in the ground. The seed seems to die, but new life grows that is very different from the little seed that is planted. The new bodies that God will bring out of the ground will also be different, just as different kinds of bodies God has created on this earth are different from each other. The glory of our new bodies will be much different from our old, dead bodies. God will make something beautiful and new out of what is old and sick with sin, a little like the way a penny press makes a shiny new penny out of one that is old and worn.

We feel sad when someone we love dies, and sometimes we worry about dying ourselves. We feel worried and anxious when we get sick, and we might worry about getting a serious sickness like cancer. Death is a fearful enemy, but Jesus has defeated death by his own death and resurrection. When people we love who believe in Jesus are put into the ground after they die, we will feel sad, but we remember the picture of the seed. In a way, we are simply planting a seed and waiting for the day when God will bring new life out of the ground, the glorious day when Jesus returns and gives new life to everyone who has died in him.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for your wonderful promise of new life for our dead bodies through Jesus. In His Name, Amen.

Source:

https://www.littlethings.com/pressed-pennies

Christ the Firstfruits

Bible:

But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. I Corinthians 15:20-26 ESV

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. Romans 6:5-9 ESV

Reflection:

In many parts of the United States, people think that when you see the first robin of the year, it means that spring is coming. This actually isn’t true, because robins live in most parts of the United States all around the year. During the winter they are often seen in large flocks. A good sign of spring is when you see a single robin plucking a worm out of the grass, or sitting in a tree and singing. When you hear the sweet song of a robin, you know that the weather is becoming more mild and that the robin is ready to mate and have a nest of babies! Seeing or hearing the first robin of spring is a sign that spring is coming, and that there will be much more life returning in animals and trees and flowers.

Paul told the Corinthians that not only was Jesus raised from the dead, but that he was a sign of much more life to come. His resurrection to life forever was the first, but everyone who believes in him will have the same resurrection. Paul compared it to the Jewish feast of firstfruits. In the spring, the very first sheaf of grain was brought to God as an offering. It was a sign that God would continue to bless the harvest and give much more grain to his people. Jesus is just the beginning of the life that God will bring out of the earth. There is much more of a harvest to come, of all the people that God will bring back to life out of the grave on the last day.

Jesus’ death and resurrection is the best of good news for us. It means that our sins are forgiven and that we have life with him. It means that death no longer has any power over us, but instead after we die we will be made alive forever. Ever since our first parents sinned in the Garden, we all have been under the power of death, but Jesus is a new Adam who overcame death with his own death and resurrection. In Jesus, we have life forever.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for the life you have given us through your resurrection. Amen.

Source:

http://www.birdsandblooms.com/blog/signs-of-spring-singing-robins/

If Christ has not been Raised

Bible:

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.

Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. I Corinthians 3-4, 12-19 ESV

But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” Luke 24:1-7 ESV

Reflection:

There is a movie about a man in a boat who accidentally ran into a shipping container, and his boat started to leak. He tried to patch the boat, but then a storm came and capsized the boat, and he was thrown overboard. The boat’s equipment was destroyed, and the man had to abandon his boat and move everything he could to an inflatable life raft. He survived another storm and was blown into a shipping lane, but two ships passed him by without seeing his signal flares. When another ship started to come his way, he set a signal fire with some pages of his journal, but the fire got out of control and burned his raft. As the movie ended, he was sinking underwater but saw the searchlight of the ship that had seen the fire. He reached his hand up to the ship. Did they see him? Did they rescue him? The movie ends without telling us that, but we know that if this ship didn’t rescue him, the man’s hope would be completely lost.

Some people in the Corinthian church were saying that after people die, they stay dead, and that there is no resurrection. They were saying that there is no hope or life after death, but Paul wrote to them that this isn’t true at all. He reminded them what he had taught while he was with them: that Jesus had died on the cross, was buried, and on the third day rose from the dead. People who say that there is no life after death and no resurrection are really saying that Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, and Paul said that if that was true, then there is no hope at all. Without Jesus’ resurrection, we are still lost in our sins and under the power of death and evil. It would mean that Paul and other Christian pastors and teachers had been telling lies about God, and it would mean that people who died believing in Jesus are lost and that we will never see them again.

The good news is that Jesus did rise from the dead. His resurrection was announced by the angels to the women, and they saw him. Later the apostles and other disciples saw him too. Because of Jesus’ resurrection, we have hope for now and for always. We have been saved from the power of sin and evil, and death can’t hurt us at all. When we die, we will go to be with Jesus, and someday he will bring our dead bodies out of the grave and we will live in his new world forever.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for the hope and comfort your resurrection gives us. Amen.

Source:

Chandor, J. C., dir. All is Lost Roadside Attractions, 2013. Film.

Love Never Ends

Bible:

Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. I Corinthians 13:8-13 ESV

But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”

The Lord is good to those who wait for him,
to the soul who seeks him. Lamentations 3:21-25 ESV

Reflection:

On the island of Crete there are fourteen olive trees that are over 3000 years old. They began their life before the rise of classical Greece during the Minoan civilization, and these trees have lived through many generations of people dying and being born, and through many civilizations rising and falling. The amazing thing is that not only are these olive trees still alive, but they are still producing olives! People have always seen these trees as bearers of wonderful gifts. They give olives and olive oil, and also they have provided shelter and protection during difficult times. People have sometimes hidden inside the hollows of these trees during the occupation of the island by enemies. It almost seems as if these trees have been around forever, giving their life and help.

The olive trees will die one day, but there’s something that does last forever, giving us life and help, and that is love. Paul told the Corinthians that love never ends. Other good gifts of God will fade away when they are no longer needed, but there will always be love. Love is something we can’t fully understand in our life on earth, but one day we will completely understand it in the same way God completely understands us. The reason is that God is love, and we only understand him a little bit right now, but someday we will see him face to face and know him the way that he knows us. Paul used two pictures. Little children see the world without understanding many things, but as they grow up they learn so much that they understand things much more clearly. When we see God in heaven, we will understand him so much more than we do now on earth. In Paul’s time, people didn’t have the kind of mirrors we have today, and they couldn’t see reflections in the glass they used as clearly as they could see something directly. We see God and his love in an ancient mirror darkly now, but someday we will see him face to face instead of as a dim reflection.

The clearest way to understand God and his love is to see Jesus on the cross. Jesus came to give himself for us because he loves us so much. He died so that we could become God’s children. His love and the forgiveness he won for us gives us the assurance that we will someday see our Heavenly Father face to face in heaven and know more fully the love he has for us and for all of his creation. We look forward to the day when we see everything made new through the wonderful love of God, the love that never ends.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for the wonderful love that you have shown us in Jesus. In His Name, Amen.

Source:

http://www.greece-is.com/living-monuments-of-crete-the-oldest-olive-trees-in-the-world/

What is Love?

Bible:

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. I Corinthians 13:4-7 ESV

The Lord is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always chide,
nor will he keep his anger forever.
He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.
For he knows our frame;
he remembers that we are dust. Psalm 103:8-14 ESV

Reflection:

DeCree, the prime minister of the land, was making a dictionary. He had an unusual way of defining words in his dictionary. For example, the definition of affectionate was “your dog.” “A loose boot in a muddy place,” was the definition for annoying, and bulky was, “A big bag of boxes.” “Saying no to the king,” was calamitous. But when DeCree got to the word delicious, he ran into trouble. He thought that “fried fish” should define delicious, but the king didn’t like fried fish. The general of the armies thought that “a mug of beer,” should define delicious, but the queen thought that, “a Christmas pudding” should be the definition, and the king thought it should be, “an apple.” Everybody had a different idea of what was delicious!

When Paul defined “love” for the Corinthians, he also didn’t define it the way most dictionaries would. He didn’t talk about the meaning of the word, but instead he described the way love behaves and lives. Love isn’t a feeling that comes one day and disappears another day, but rather love is a commitment to do and to be a certain way–patient and kind, unselfish, truthful, hopeful, believing, and enduring.

We can never love perfectly in this way, but God does. When we want to know the definition of love, the best place to look is to Jesus. Jesus is all of the things that are listed in our Bible passage, and he showed us this love by setting aside all his power and glory and coming to live among us as a human person. Jesus cared for and helped and healed many people, and he taught us the ways of God. When he was arrested, he didn’t fight or try to escape, but instead he let himself be beaten and mocked and put on a cross to die. He did this because he loves us and wanted to win our forgiveness so that we could be his people always. For us and for everyone who is God’s child, love means Jesus.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for loving us and giving yourself for us. Please help us to learn the ways of love. Amen.

Source:

Babbitt, Natalie The Search for Delicious New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1969.

Nothing without Love

Bible:

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. I Corinthians 13:1-3 ESV

Many waters cannot quench love,
neither can floods drown it.
If a man offered for love
all the wealth of his house,
he would be utterly despised. Song of Solomon 8:7 ESV

Reflection:

Barbara Hutton was born to very rich parents, and she was extremely rich from the day she was born. She had a very unhappy life, though. Her mother killed herself when she was six, and her father never paid much attention to her. When she grew up, she married and divorced seven different men. At the end of her life she had an amazing collection of art and jewelry, including an emerald and diamond bracelet that had belonged to Catherine the Great. She gave money to anyone she thought might be her friend, but in the end, when she died, she didn’t have the one thing she had wanted all her life. Barbara Hutton never knew a love she could depend on, and because of that, nothing she had really gave her any happiness.

Paul wrote to the Corinthians about how important love is. He said that nothing, even the heroic and wonderful things people might do, even for God, are worth anything at all without love. People might be able to speak all kinds of languages from all over the earth and heaven as well, and they might know and understand many difficult things and be able to explain them to others and have a strong faith that works miracles, and they might even give their bodies away to be burned, but none of this is any good at all without love.

Sometimes we get caught up in the idea of doing wonderful things for God, but we forget that the most important thing of all is to love him and love others. We start to focus on the great things we are doing, and it makes us proud. We forget how much we need the love of Jesus, who died on the cross for us and showed us the most perfect love of all. The love of Jesus forgives our sins, and makes us humble as we realize how much we need what he has to give us. Our own strength and power really can’t do anything lasting or worthwhile, but the love of Jesus  makes us able to truly serve and help others.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for your love. Please help us to remember most of all to love you and others. Amen.

Source:

http://www.elenasdiary.com/en/saga-of-the-week/1010-barbara-hutton-h-istoria-toy-perifimou-ftoxoy-plousiokoritsou

The Body of Christ

Bible:

For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.

The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” . . . If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. I Corinthians 12:12-21, 26 ESV

Behold, how good and pleasant it is
when brothers dwell in unity!
It is like the precious oil on the head,
running down on the beard,
on the beard of Aaron,
running down on the collar of his robes!
It is like the dew of Hermon,
which falls on the mountains of Zion!
For there the Lord has commanded the blessing,
life forevermore. Psalm 133 ESV

Reflection:

Have you ever gone to see an orchestra perform? There are many different instruments in an orchestra, and each one makes a different sound. Orchestra instruments can be put into four groups. There are the strings, such as the violin and the cello. These are usually played by drawing a bow across the strings. Then there are the woodwinds, such as the flute, the clarinet, and the oboe. Some are played by blowing across the mouthpiece, and some are played by blowing past one or two reeds. Another instrument group is the brass, such as the trumpet and the French horn. These instruments are long pipes that end in a bell shape, but the pipes are twisted and bent to make them easier to hold. They usually have valves to open and close different parts of the pipe. Finally there are the percussion instruments, such as the tympani, the gong, and the cymbals. These instruments are played by hitting them in some way. Every instrument in an orchestra is important, and they all work together to make beautiful music. If one kind of instrument were missing, there would be something lovely and important missing from the music.

Paul wrote to the Corinthians about the way they all fit together and each person was important, even though everyone was different and each person served a different function in the church. Paul didn’t use the picture of an orchestra, but instead he used the even more wonderful example of a body. All Christians are made part of one body, the body of Christ, through their baptism and the gift of the Holy Spirit. Each member of the body is different. Some people might be like hands, and some like feet, some like ears, and some like eyes. But no one needs to look at someone else and think, “I’m not as good or as important as that person.” And no one should look at someone else and think, “I’m better or more important than that person,” or even, “I don’t need this person.” We need all the parts of our own bodies to work together, and we need all the people in the church to work together and help each other and love each other.

We often don’t act like the body of Christ in the church, and this is because of selfishness and sin. But it’s not our love or our cleverness in working together that make us the body of Christ. Jesus has made us part of his body by dying on the cross for us and making us his own people. He loves and forgives us and helps us to work together. He gives us the gift of the Holy Spirit, and also the gift of each other. The Holy Spirit helps us to be what we already are, members of Jesus’ one body brought together by him.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for making us part of your body. Help us to love each other and to work together for you. Amen.

Source:

https://www.arapahoe-phil.org/learn/resources-instruments-orchestra/

The Gift of the Holy Spirit

Bible:

Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed. You know that when you were pagans you were led astray to mute idols, however you were led. Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit. I Corinthians 12:1-3 ESV

[Jesus said:] “What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” Luke 11:11-13 ESV

Reflection:

In ancient Greece, there was a great temple to the god Apollo in a place called Delphi, where people could come to consult him and ask his advice. In the temple there was a woman who was called an oracle, and she would go into a trance and give answers to the questions people would bring her. People believed that while the oracle was in a trance the god Apollo spoke through her. However, the words of the oracles at Delphi didn’t always make sense, and they were never really clear, but instead could be interpreted in very different ways. For example, King Croesus once came to ask the oracle if he should go to war with the Persians, and the oracle said that if he did that, a great empire would fall. Croesus thought that this meant the Persians would fall, but when he went to war, his own empire was the one that fell! The oracle hadn’t lied, but she hadn’t been helpful to Croesus or clear in her message.

Paul talked about the days that many of the Corinthians had been pagans, and had believed in idols instead of in the true God. Paul said that these idols were mute, that is, that they couldn’t talk or help the people with their problems. Idols are just statues people make to represent a false god or goddess, and they can only sit silently in their place. The oracle at Delphi might have been making up her words, or she might have used drugs or the gases that came up from a crack in the earth to go into a trance. Apollo and the other gods and goddesses the Corinthians once believed in couldn’t do anything for them, but the Holy Spirit could. The Holy Spirit is the guide to truth and the one who gives us the gift of faith in Jesus. Paul said that no one could really believe in Jesus or say that he is Lord except in the Holy Spirit.

Our God isn’t like mute idols. He speaks to us through his Word, the Bible, and his words are clear and helpful to us. Most importantly, God came and spoke to us through Jesus. Jesus taught us the words of his Heavenly Father, and he showed us God’s will by dying on the cross to save us. Through Jesus we know that God wants us to be his own people, and that he loves us and forgives us every day. We hear the words of God through the Bible, and when we hear and learn what the Bible says, the Holy Spirit gives us the gift of faith and of life forever in Jesus.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for giving us your word and for Jesus, our Savior. Thank you for the gift of the Holy Spirit. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Source:

https://www.ancient.eu/delphi/