Philippians 2:1-11 – What is Being Christ-like?

Read Philippians 2:1-11

petals of a flower opening with the words Jesus Beautiful Savior

Yes. Yes. Yes. And, yes! I would say those are my answers to Paul’s first four questions. He seems to be urging his friends into spiritual unity. When we can all work together, caring for others and putting others first, we move closer to becoming more like Jesus. Selfish behavior can ruin a church while humility can restore and rebuild. Think about a situation in your church or community where grace and respect would have been the better answer.

Read these “warning” words from Paul again, “Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.” If you’re like me, you immediately pictured yourself in the “reprimand.” Now read this message again and picture Jesus and how he lived and interacted with others. How cool is that? Jesus totally lived out these words!

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1 Corinthians 14:26-40 – Unity in the Community

Read 1 Corinthians 14:26-40

unity in community

There are some troubling words in today’s reading—especially for the ladies! We’ll ponder all that, but it seems Paul is still trying to keep the church community in alignment with God’s desire for unity. By setting parameters and expectations for worship, Paul is helping the growing congregation from being a chaotic hot mess trying to do it all!

Paul includes some pretty specific guidelines for the use of spiritual gifts as well. We can all agree that it appears our gifts should work to nurture and bless the congregation. When you look around at your church friends, do you see how God has gifted them each differently? Is everyone using their gifts?

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1 Corinthians 1:10-17 – A People Divided

Read 1 Corinthians 1:10-17

two roads dividing around mountain covered in foggy mist

One of my first memories of elementary school was being picked for dodgeball teams at recess or in gym class. I was lucky if I was picked before being the last one standing there feeling unwanted. (Not pleasant or good for my self-esteem, but somebody must be last!) How did they know I was lousy at sports and afraid of my own shadow?

I learned at that early age that there were divisions in the world. People were always being categorized one way or another. They were athletic or clumsy, smart or dumb, musical or seemingly tone deaf, rich or poor, etc. We could come up with labels all day long. Labels may be just words, but they also cause division and disunity.

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Galatians 2:1-10 – Unity in Diversity

Read Galatians 2:1-10

Unity in diversity

Do you find it hard to trust a bully? Maybe you’re holding on to a memory from childhood of someone who mistreated you, called you names, etc. Then, years later you see them at the mall, and they seem friendly and welcoming. People can change, yet we hold our old memories close before trust will come.

You can imagine how Paul felt going before the apostles of Jesus. They would surely recognize him as the bully to Christians. But God had intervened. Paul was no longer against Christ, but for Christ, now on a mission from Jesus himself to reach the Gentiles. His job was not to convert Gentiles to Judaism, but to introduce them to salvation through Jesus Christ.

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Romans 15:23-33 – Paul’s Prayer Request

Read Romans 15:23-33

Paul is looking forward to meeting the Christians in Rome, but he’s got some difficult tasks facing him before he can do so. He is sending a request for prayer in this passage. That’s a good reminder to us to be asking our own brothers and sisters in Christ to pray for us.

How many times have you told someone, “I’ll pray for you.” There is comfort in those words. Many times, that’s the best thing we can offer to do. God is a better problem solver than we could ever dream of being. I don’t know about you, but I so much more prefer to pray right there on the spot when someone shares a prayer request. I remember the first time someone did that with me. We were standing in the middle of a hotel lobby. Not the most opportune location, but once in prayer I didn’t really care. Sometimes timing or location doesn’t allow for that, but how affirming and calming the instant prayers can be.

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