You Belong (Part 4 of 4)

You Belong

You belong. 

Yes, you. 

No membership fees. No sorority rush. No skills needed. You’re in.

Often I forget the community of the worldwide Church in the pursuit of personal discipleship. While throughout Scripture, the Jews have always had a national mindset, Peter extends that thinking to his Gentile brothers and sisters. 

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. 1 Peter 2:9-10 NIV

Peter again gives us a list of word pictures:

Chosen People: You have been selected. God did not pick you randomly. And you have a place in a group. You don’t fly solo—at least you shouldn’t. Ecclesiastes 4:12 reads, “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” Paul described the corporate church as a body. Are you connected? Do your spiritual fibers interlock with those of the brothers and sisters in Christ around you? Wisdom. Comfort. Strength. Encouragement. Healing. The give-and-take of community builds us up. The body suffers when we disengage. 

Royal Priesthood: British royals fascinate me, but Queen Elizabeth, William, and Kate can’t compare with the royal status God gives His children. We are not children of a king. We are children of the King. Priesthood in the Old Testament remained separate from the kingship—until Jesus came. Because Jesus came as a priest in the order of Melchizedek, not Aaron, He combined the two. Consequently, we inherit both as well. Who better to represent the King than His children?

Holy Nation: Holiness, love, and grace should mark God’s people. Belief determines behavior. What does our behavior demonstrate about our beliefs?

When I think of nation, I think of a people united by geography, culture, and government. The opening ceremonies of the Olympics give me a sense of God’s future kingdom. Every nation, race, and culture will unite as brothers and sisters in Christ. Worship will be an adventure.

God’s Special Possession: Wow. You. Me. His. Wow. A change has taken place, Peter tells us. A transition from unacceptable to accepted. From justice to mercy. God looks for a response on our part, and rightly so, “that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 

Worship with Tasha Cobbs as she declares the power of Jesus as He breaks the chains of the evil one.

Workout of the Week: You Belong

Memory Verse: But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. 1 Peter 2:9-10 NIV

Meditation Passage: 1 Peter 2:4-10

Do It: Declare His praises and embrace the community of the Church.

Our spiritual discipline for January is meditation. This week, remember all the times you were chosen—or not. Now, picture God choosing you. Set the scene. Who do you see in the crowd? What does Jesus do when He sees you? How does He call you forward? What does He do when you get there? How do you feel?

Divide and Conquer: Why the Enemy Hates Unity

Divide and Conquer

God places a high value on unity.

Unity in families. Unity in marriage. Unity in the church.

Is it any wonder the enemy destroys unity wherever he can? That families, marriages, and the church are constantly under attack? Matthew wrote, “Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, ‘Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand.’” (Matthew 12:25 NIV)

Scripture uses several word pictures to describe unity:

Think of what each of these looks like when it is unhealthy or has been compromised:

Check out Jesus’ prayer in John 17:20-23:

My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. (Emphasis mine.)

Unity points an unbelieving world to Christ. Unity also brings the church to maturity and fullness in the faith.

What body part, what building block, what patch of earth, what sheep needs your attention?

Workout of the Week: United We Stand

Memory Verse: “Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, ‘Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand.’” Matthew 12:25

Meditation Passage: Choose a word picture above.

Just Do It: Stand together.

Dethroning the Drama Kings and Queens

Dethroning the Drama Kings and Queens

Drama: A state, situation, or series of events involving interesting or intense conflict of forces (Merriam-Webster).

I enjoy drama in film or literature, but I can do without it on a personal level. Though some thrive on it (reality TV?), drama does serious damage to unity.

And unity is something I pray for regularly. Strong ties of faith and family. Harmony. No drama.

Today I want to examine some ways drama seizes control.

Misunderstandings: Body language. Tone. Words. All are so easy to misconstrue. When the verbal waters get muddy, ask for clarification. Assume nothing. Reserve judgment and wait for the person to articulate what they mean. Patience goes a long way here. Let the other person explain himself. After all, he knows best what he means. We’re only guessing—and often we guess wrong. Proverbs 20:3 (NIV) says, “It is to a man’s honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel.”

Offense and Defense: Note the wisdom from Proverbs:

  • “He who covers an offense promotes love.” (Proverbs 17:9a)
  • “An offended brother is more unyielding than a fortified city” (Proverbs 18:18)
  • “A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.” (Proverbs 19:11)

While offense and defense make for a good football game, they make for lousy family dynamics. Defensiveness. Getting offended easily. Scripture gives them both a yellow flag. Give some grace instead. Has that person had a rough day? Week? Season? Are they tired? Hungry? A hug and a Snickers bar may serve the situation far better than a snappy comeback.

Old Days, Old Ways: David received this treatment from his older brothers, “When Eliab, David’s oldest brother, heard him speaking with the men, he burned with anger at him and asked, ‘Why have you come down here? And with whom did you leave those few sheep in the wilderness? I know how conceited you are and how wicked your heart is; you came down only to watch the battle.’ ‘Now what have I done?’ said David. ‘Can’t I even speak?’” (1 Samuel 17:28-29 NIV) Can you sense the sibling tension? People can change, so don’t assume old behavior is repeating. Give others—even those closest to you—the benefit of the doubt. I’m not the person I was ten, five, or even one year ago. I’m still working on stuff, but aren’t we all? Let’s think as highly of others as we want them to think of us.

Here’s a resource I gave my family under the guise of something fun and interesting, but with unity and harmony in mind. I’ve written on the Enneagram before. The Enneagram details nine personalities. Our family has every number except #4. We have two unmarried at this point, so we may get a Four yet. To discover our numbers, all of us read The Road Back to You by I. Cron and S. Stabile. The follow up book,The Path Between Us, examines how to get along with each other. When I need to talk to my youngest, I reread the chapter on Eights. Need insight on my daughters-in-law? The chapters on #6 and #7. My husband? The chapter on Twos.

I want our family to have a healthy unity. Links may create friction at time, but together we make a chain that will hold us steady in the storms of life and against the warfare of the enemy.

Drama, you have no status here. You’ve been dethroned.

Workout of the Week: Dethroning Drama

Memory Verse: “It is to a man’s honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel.” Proverbs 20:3

Meditation Passage: 1 Corinthians 13

Just Do It: Dethrone drama.

Sibling Rivalry and the Church

Sibling Rivalry and the Church

My sister is my parents’ favorite. Not ready for parenthood when I arrived, seven years later they were more settled. Amy, whose name means “beloved,” was welcomed with open arms.

Yet, when the two of us talk, she says I was the favorite.

Comparison is a killer especially between siblings. Sadly, we see it in the church between spiritual siblings too.

Who is more spiritual?

Who has experienced what?

Who prays longer?

Who serves more?

Paul discourages such talk in 1 Corinthians 12 among believers bickering over spiritual gifts.

“There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.” (1 Corinthians 12:4-7 NIV)

“The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ.” (1 Corinthians 12:12)

“But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.” (1 Corinthians 12:24-26)

Do you hear the call for unity? Here are some things to keep in mind:

Dad Loves All of Us

Whether we have a prayer language—or not.

Whether we have fallen, again, or are walking faithfully.

Whether we’ve been a believer for ten years—or for ten minutes.

Whether we are leading on stage or serving back in the nursery with the two-year-olds.

Family First

When it comes to spiritual gifts, God gives as He sees fit, just as parents adjust privileges to fit each child. What matters most is that everyone grows. And let’s remember, it’s His gifting and His manifestation on display, not our talents or abilities.

Holy Harmony

Just as the members of the Trinity operate in perfect harmony and unity with one another, our churches, our marriages, and our families should reflect a holy harmony too. Our unity testifies to the goodness of our God. It’s not optional.

So, if you’re feeling the stirrings of discontentment or even a little envy toward those you rub shoulders with at church, remember, sibling rivalry has no place here.

Your heavenly Dad loves you like crazy and has something special just for you. Competing for first place is silly. You’re already there.

Questions:

The Corinthian church struggled because it compared spiritual giftings. What’s your struggle?

Why do you think we compare?

How do you think God feels about His children competing with one another to be the most spiritual?

Can you think of some of Jesus’ disciples who had the same issue?

Tweetables:

Comparison is a killer especially between siblings. Click to tweet.

Sadly, spiritual siblings suffer from sibling rivalry too. Click to tweet.

It’s His gifting and His manifestation, not our talents or abilities. Click to tweet.

Dad loves you like crazy. Click to tweet.