Journal Entries
Every weekday you will find a journal entry here from someone different in our church family. 
 
Click the scripture title and scroll down to see a comments section where you can ask questions, share insights and post your own SOUL Journal entry for the day!
 

2 Corinthians_4

Scripture‭‭
 
2 Corinthians‬ ‭4:8-10‬ ‭ERV
 
“We have troubles all around us, but we are not defeated. We often don’t know what to do, but we don’t give up. We are persecuted, but God does not leave us. We are hurt sometimes, but we are not destroyed. So we constantly experience the death of Jesus in our own bodies, but this is so that the life of Jesus can also be seen in our bodies.”
 
Observation-What does it say?
 
In his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul is no doubt feeling the aches and pains of being physically persecuted. Paul reminds the Corinthians that the physical body is only a temporary abode. Our true heavenly perfected body awaits us in Heaven. Paul reminds them that all of life’s struggles they may be experiencing are only temporary. Paul encourages them to remain strong in their faith, that there is a purpose behind their struggles. That purpose is to shine the light of Jesus to others even through our struggles. To point those people still in “the dark”, towards the light. To give these people hope. A hope that never fails. A hope in eternal life. A hope in Jesus Christ.
 
Understanding-What does it mean?
 
Hope in the unseen.
 
How did Paul maintain such joy and obedience in the face of so much suffering and the threat of death? The answer should be one of every believer. Paul’s hope was in Jesus Christ and His resurrection. He could care less about his own peace and security. His confidence of an eternity free of sin, death, and sadness sustained him. Paul didn’t let life’s circumstances bring him down. Instead Paul put his complete trust in the promises of Jesus.
 
Sure it’s easy to be a Christ Follower when everything is good and going your way. But what if things became extremely difficult and each day was a struggle? How would you respond? I think what Paul is reminding us here is to keep our “eyes on the prize”. Our treasure isn’t here on earth. It awaits us in Heaven. We need to remain faithful and focused on the mission we are given…which is to multiply Christ Followers everywhere. Even in life’s struggles, stand strong knowing even Jesus Christ Himself wasn’t exempt from it. But know that if we submit to God’s will, the way Jesus did, we too will be in paradise alongside Him some day.
 
Life Application
 
Praise God through life’s ups and downs.
 
Father God, I thank You for watching over me throughout life’s ups and downs. Your love is constant and never changing. May You bless me with the strength to make it through this day. May I give You praise not only in the good times, but even through the difficult times. I know You will never leave me, and Your strength sustains me. Allow my faith and my life point others to Your light. May You get all the glory, honor, and praise. In Your Holy name I pray, Amen.
 
-Moses Gaddi
 


2 Corinthians 3

Scripture  2 Corinthians 3:3-6, 17 You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. Such confidence we have through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life……Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”

Observation-What does it say? 
 
“Paul’s critics solicited human references. Paul turns, instead, to divine references. For the credential that he has to offer is Christ’s own letter written with the Spirit of the living God on the hearts of his converts. His critics boasted, as well, of the presence and power of the Spirit in their ministry. But for them it was the Spirit’s presence as manifested in and through the working of signs, wonders and miracles (12:11-12).”  Paul, on the other hand, looked to the inward change of heart as the primary evidence of the Spirit’s presence. It is changed lives, not sensational feats, that are the true sign of a Spirit-directed ministry. -biblegateway.com commentary

Understanding-What does it mean?

Paul did not measure a successful ministry the way his critics did.
 
The fruits of a successful ministry are not just measured by how many miracles one has done, or prophecies spoken over people, or how many people converted, etc. Those are outward works and the critics of Paul’s ministry measured success by that! They boasted about it! No. Paul wrote that it had to do with an inward change of heart for Jesus, which goes deeper than outward works (only possible by the Spirit). This was in essence his letter of reference that displayed the Spirit’s work in his ministry.  There are gifts of the Spirit, but here, Paul speaks more about the fruits. There are many ministers who have the gifts, but not the fruits which are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. 

Life Application  Outward gifts are important, but it’s important that the inward gifts of the Spirit are developed too. 

 
“Let someone else praise you, and not your own mouth; an outsider, and not your own lips.” Proverbs 27:2
 
What do people say about us when they compliment us or speak well of us to others? Are they only complimenting our outward works (such as you are a great singer or a great teacher or a great administrator), etc.? If there is nothing about our character in any of those compliments, it might be time to build up our references in those areas as well. 
 
Real talk: While writing this, I am also being convicted myself.
 
When someone offends us, do we respond with a gentle/kind word or do we chew their heads off, think bad things and spread bad gossip about them?
 
When someone treats us unfairly, do we treat them unfairly back or do we love our enemies and forgive them as Christ has forgiven us? 
 
When life’s unfair circumstances hit, are we joyful and have peace through the trials or do we have a victim mentality?
 
When we are tempted in any way, do we hold fast to goodness and respond with self control, or do we give in to the temptation? 
 
When there is something we want right now, but can’t have it yet, do we throw a fit/complain and go into debt/blame God for it or do we delay gratification and wait patiently for it? 
 
When we commit to something (or someone), are we faithful to follow through on it to the end, or do we want to give up at the first sign of hardship?  Do we leave when a better opportunity comes along? 
 
Dear Jesus, I pray that we would have the fullness of Your Spirit, both in gifts and fruits. I understand that it is only by Your doing that these things will come to pass, so I pray for a heart that is fully submitted to Your will whenever convicted. You usually ask me to move in a way that goes against my human nature or the worldly norm. I pray You would strengthen my faith and trust.  I want to always say Yes to You and No to my flesh and the enemy. Amen. 
 
-Michelle Gaddi


1 Kings_19

Scripture

1 Kings 19:11-12

11 The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.

 

Observation

The story of Elijah continues.  “How he was driven into banishment by the malice of Jezebel his sworn enemy (v. 1-3), how he was met, in his banishment, by the favour of God, his covenant-friend. How God fed him (v 4-8).  How he conversed with him, and manifested himself to him (v. 9, v 11-13), heard his complaint (v 10-14), directed him what to do (v 15-17) and encouraged him (v 18).  How his hands were strengthened, at his return out of banishment, by joining of Elisha with him (v 19-21).” [Excerpt from Matthew Henry’s Commentary of the Whole Bible – www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/matthew-henry-complete/1-kings/19.html}

 

Understanding

What struck me about these verses is that 1) even when Elijah was banished in the earthly world, God met him with favor and 2) God doesn’t come always come in the ways that we think, hope or expect.  Big, powerful actions came – wind tearing mountains apart and shattering rocks, an earthquake, a fire…but God came in a whisper. 

That brings to mind two things…the first, I was recently encouraged that, while God doesn’t always move the way we think He will, OUR [only] part is obedience.  If God calls us, we respond in obedience.  That obedience may not bring the result we expect or want…but God’s movements are not always explicit, they’re not always obvious.  It may just be a seed being planted, or perhaps watered, for a crop that we will never personally see.  And the second thing is our homework from yesterday – to look for God in the ordinary.  His fingerprints are EVERYwhere.

 

Life Application

God, may I be bold in my obedience and consciously aware of your presence.  May I walk, speak, trust, move in a way that brings honor to you.

 

In Jesus name, Amen.

 

Rei

 

To check out the discussion or to join in click here.



Luke 2:21-40

SCRIPTURE

Luke 2:21-40 (NIV) 21  On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise him, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he had been conceived. 22  When the time of their purification according to the Law of Moses had been completed, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23  (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”), 24  and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.” 25  Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26  It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 27  Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, 28  Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: 29  “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. 30  For my eyes have seen your salvation, 31  which you have prepared in the sight of all people, 32  a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.” 33  The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. 34  Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 35  so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.” 36  There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37  and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. 38  Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem. 39  When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth. 40  And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him.  
 
OBSERVATION
After Jesus’ birth, His parents followed Jewish customs. These included circumcision on the eighth day, the dedication to the Lord of a firstborn child, and Mary’s purification.   While performing these common customs, Joseph and Mary are surprised at church. God loves taking the ordinary and seemingly mundane moments of obedience and turning them into extraordinary moments.  
 
UNDERSTANDING
Joseph and Mary show up at the Temple to do what is required—the customs of the day—and they are met by two very excited old timers! First Simeon, then Anna prophesy over Joseph and Mary and their baby, and start declaring the news to anyone who will listen that this baby is God’s salvation. This is the ONE.  In the midst of something ordinary, the extraordinary happens.   This would be like you showing up at church today, and suddenly, God speaks to you or heals you or changes you!
 
Or this would be like you doing your daily time with God— PB&J (prayer, Bible reading and journaling) and God shows up in an extraordinary way.  
 
LIFE APPLICATION
The same is to be expected of us today.  On any given Sunday when you do what you are supposed to do – show up to worship and connect with God’s people – God invades and turns the ordinary into the extraordinary.  I wonder how many times we may have missed out because we didn’t want to do the necessary requirements?
Or how about PB&J?  Those moments of obedience and commitment to relationship that become extraordinary because God invades our ordinary activities.
 
Be ready for God to surprise you…He loves doing it! 


2 Corinthians_1

Scripture:  2 Corinthians 1:7  And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.

Observation-What does it say?  When Paul wrote his first letter to the church at Corinth, they were experiencing a deal of turmoil within the group.  Which is the reason for his sharp tone denouncing their behavior.  While he was attempting to return to the city of Corinth, to which he suffered many hardships during the journey, both physically and internally, he was anxious to find out their status and how the first letter was received.  In the opening to this letter, Paul praises God for his goodness during these recent trials.  “His suffering has had two wholly good side-effects: the experience of God’s comfort in it all; a new ability to help comfort those in similar circumstances.” (Zondervan Handbook to the Bible, p.706)

Understanding-What does it mean?   My buddy Jon came up with the quote for the back of my cross-country team shirt for my junior year.  “Suffering is fun!”  The saying was accompanied by a picture of a stick figure man in the process of losing his lunch.  One of the things about kids who run long distance, they have a bit of a warped sense of humor.  It may be because we spent our free time doing the thing that for other sports is a punishment.  It may be because it was often hard find a restroom in those hours of activity.  Either way, as a runner I came to appreciate the fact that to find meaning in my running, to see improvements, there was a certain amount of suffering that had to be endured.

Life is full of all sorts of suffering.  Without some sort of meaning, the suffering can be too much to endure.  Our careers can be seen as useless unless we have meaning in them, a noble purpose that makes the suffering worth it.  Without a family to provide for, or an enduring mark on society, the work we do will feel as though it falls on emptiness.

In the Christian life, we are clearly warned of the suffering we will endure for the sake of God’s name.  Time and time again through the words of those who suffered in the stories of the Bible, we hear of God comforting those who suffer for him.  We see Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego surviving fire.  Daniel finding comfort in the lions den.  Jonah praising God in the belly of a great fish.  And here in the book of Corinthians, we see Paul telling us of the great comfort he has had in suffering.  When we draw close to Him, God will comfort us.

John G. Patton was a missionary to an island of cannibals.  During his time he suffered great violence and threats on his life.  Of this suffering he wrote, “Life in such circumstances led me to cling very near to the Lord Jesus; I knew not, for one brief hour, when or how attack might be made; and yet, with my trembling hand clasped in the hand once nailed on Calvary, and now swaying the scepter of the universe, calmness and peace and resignation abode in my soul.”

Life Application  Praise the Lord, all you nations; extol him, all you peoples.  For great is his love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever.  Praise the Lord. Psalm 117

Jesus teach me to worship, even when life seems impossible.  Help me to endure the suffering here on earth, knowing that you will bring me comfort.  My purpose here is to bring you glory, and I find comfort in that.  
 
-Tyler Galloway


1 Kings_17

Scripture

1 Kings 17:13 Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small loaf of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son. 14 For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord sends rain on the land.’”

Observation

Ahab has become king of Israel and was farthest from God and keeping his commands. Then to top it off he married Jezebel 🙁 He set up idols to her god and what the enemy of Elijah. Elijah pronounced a drought and God spoke to him to go east of the Jordan.

1 Kings 17:5 So he did what the Lord had told him. He went to the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan, and stayed there. 6 The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook.

But then the brook dried up. Elijah had to move on with nothing to eat or drink.

1 Kings 17:7 Some time later the brook dried up because there had been no rain in the land. 8 Then the word of the Lord came to him: 9 “Go at once to Zarephath in the region of Sidon and stay there. I have directed a widow there to supply you with food.” 10 So he went to Zarephath. When he came to the town gate, a widow was there gathering sticks. He called to her and asked, “Would you bring me a little water in a jar so I may have a drink?” 11 As she was going to get it, he called, “And bring me, please, a piece of bread.”

Understanding

Sometimes God asks us to let go of what we have so He can give us more.

The widow had nothing left to give. Remember Jesus said that when we give to the least of these we did it unto him.

Matthew 25:37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

I can’t help but think that maybe Elijah in that moment was the “least” so that the widow would be able to minister to God, so that God would be able to minister to the widow.

Application

God will sustain us through the times of drought if we put our faith in Him.

He does not desire that our dry situation should become dead.

It’s a natural reaction to want to hold on to the “little” that we have, especially if it’s connected to our well being. God wants to give us more if we are willing to do the exchange.

1 Kings 17:15 She went away and did as Elijah had told her. So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family. 16 For the jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the Lord spoken by Elijah.

By faith, she gave the little she had and God supplied her with enough to feed Elijah, her family, and herself until the drought had ended.

By faith, she did what was right, to feed Elijah, a man who was thirsty and hungry and asking for help.

Holding on to what we have will soon run out.

Trust God, give it to him, and let him sustain you.
 
Deborah Lee


Psalm 127

Scripture

Psalm 127: 1-2

1 Unless the LORD builds the house the builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain. 2 In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat — for he grants sleep to those he loves.
 
Observation
 
Solomon continues to bring hope to many who may be experiencing a tough time, but this time he offers it in a practical manner. Additionally, he seems to be calling those who believe to action rather than just observance. He also speaks of God’s character throughout this short chapter.
 
Understanding
 
Without God being at the center of our lives, everything we do is meaningless.
 
As harsh as the understanding of these verses is, it’s as simple as this: without God we are nothing and a nobody. Too often we get caught up in our own ways and actions that we begin to labor in vain. It seems like something we should avoid, yet I know in my own life, I find myself slipping and placing myself at the center of my life instead of my Creator. Just like anything in life, toiling for the sake of God is a choice and a decision we should proudly wear every single day. It is us declaring to the world “If God is not at the center, or if it isn’t from God, then I don’t want it!” This statement not only humbles, but it empowers those who are willing to live it out. Paul says it this way in 1 Corinthians 13:1-2:

1 If I speak in tongues of men or angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that moves mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.

God is love and if we are exemplify Him in our daily life we must first hold Him as our unshakable identity, at the core of who we are.
 
Another interesting thing I feel I should note, however, is the fact that this verse also speaks to God’s desire to bless those He loves. I don’t know about you, but a good sleep or nap after a long day is amazing(and according to that second verse God ordained), but it is only because of God that I even have the time to nap or even be tired enough to sleep. Sure, I may have taken that to the extreme, but the point is God loves to bless those who follow after Him with all their heart. Whatever your need, He’ll happily supply it, but this only happens if God is placed at the center of your every action. Rei said it perfectly on Monday, we have already experienced God, but imagine what it would be like to experience His fullness. Imagine how much more we could knowing that the God of the universe lies within us and is who we are.
 
Life Application
 
Toil with a purpose.
 
I don’t want to build a faulty house because I thought my blueprints were better than God’s. In the same way I don’t want to miss out on God’s love and promises because He isn’t the core of my identity. May we live a life that intentionally places God above the world and ourself, may we live according to HIs will alone. Do something because it is what God wants, not because we “think” it is right. He’s already given us a purpose, not it’s time to live it!
 
-Allison Khan


Psalm_126

Scripture

Psalm‬ ‭126:1-4, 6‬ ‭NIV‬‬

“When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dreamed. Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, “The LORD has done great things for them.” The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy. Restore our fortunes, LORD, like streams in the Negev….Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them.”
‭‭
Observation-What does it say?

“The Psalmist sang of a time when God set His people free from their captivity, and they were restored to Jerusalem (aka Zion).” -(Source: enduringword.com)

Understanding-What does it mean?

We’ve been set free from captivity because of Jesus Christ!

When this passage talks about restoring fortunes in verses 1 and 4, it is not talking about material fortunes. It is talking about bringing back the captives and being set free from bondage/slavery.

There are some school of thought that correlate blessing with material wealth. However, how would we explain the beatitudes in Matthew 5? Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom. Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness for theirs is the Kingdom. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and say all kinds of evil against you because of Jesus, for great is our reward in heaven.
 
A blessed situation is whatever leads us to run into the arms of our Savior, whether good or bad. Some of my most blessed situations have been the darkest times of my life, because it developed roots in my relationship with Jesus that not even the toughest storms can touch.

Life Application

Pursue TRUE blessing through Jesus Christ and share that blessing with others.

Today, my husband and I paid off the last of our debt this morning, so besides a home mortgage which we recently refinanced down to 15 years, we are debt free! Being debt free allows us to be even more generous with our giving and I’m definitely less stressed when managing our finances.

Even though it is a commendable goal to be debt free and experience financial freedom, being free from captivity to our sin is the greatest gift we have received. God wants to bring back captives from their sin, not so that He can bless us with more material possessions or fortunes. True joy does not come from worldly wealth. True joy is a result of a personal and deepened relationship with Jesus.

“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.”
‭‭1 John‬ ‭2:15-17‬ ‭NIV‬‬

May we pursue what truly matters and share the “wealth” He has given us with others so that they would be wealthy in the Lord as well.

-Michelle Gaddi


1 Corinthians_13

Scripture

1 Corinthians 13:8-10

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 

Observation

Probably one of my most favorites. Paul is writing to the church of Corinth and, here, he turns to the topic of love – the need for and importance of it as well as some of the characteristics of it.

Understanding

All these years I’ve read and loved 1 Corinthians, I must be honest, I’ve camped out on verses 1-7 and ended it after the first part of verse 8 – Love never fails.  I still love those verses – the understanding that THAT is what love is, that we get to experience that perfect love from our perfect Father and that His love never fails.  Gets my heart all warm and fuzzy soaking in those verses.  But, reading today, I had to dig a little as I did not understand the part that came next.

But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears.

And now, after having done some research, I might like this part even more than the first! 🙂

Matthew Henry’s commentary explains this way (bold emphasis mine)…

“(v. 9) Our best knowledge and our greatest abilities are at present like our condition, narrow and temporary. Even the knowledge they had by inspiration was but in part. How little a portion of God, and the unseen world, was heard even by apostles and inspired men! How much short do others come of them! But these gifts were fitted to the present imperfect state of the church, valuable in themselves, but not to be compared with charity, because they were to vanish with the imperfections of the church, nay, and long before, whereas charity was to last for ever.III. He takes occasion hence to show how much better it will be with the church hereafter than it can be here. A state of perfection is in view (v 10): When that which is perfect shall come, then that which is in part shall be done away. When the end is once attained, the means will of course be abolished. There will be no need of tongues, and prophecy, and inspired knowledge, in a future life, because then the church will be in a state of perfection, complete both in knowledge and holiness. God will be known then clearly, and in a manner by intuition, and as perfectly as the capacity of glorified minds will allow; not by such transient glimpses, and little portions, as here.”

You see, when God’s perfect love is complete, we will know Him and experience Him more and far deeper than we have yet or even can in our human condition.  I don’t know about you, but that excites me!

What we’ve experienced with God – even the most impactful encounters we’ve had – are just the beginning!

Life Application

The best is yet to come.  Live with ALL the love – as it is a representation of God and all His goodness and it’s one of the easiest ways we can share Him others – here and now; but look forward with anticipation to what’s to come…because we’ve only seen the smallest piece of how truly magnificent it will be. 

God, I thank you that you love us enough to reveal your nature to us…in amounts that we can withstand in our human condition.  But I look forward to seeing and experiencing you fully!  May I take every opportunity to seek you, to love you, to share your love with others today. 

Rei

To check out the discussion or to join in click here.

PS Check out this song…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aSYQKt5vgVs



1 Corinthians 12

Scripture  1 Corinthians 12:12-13  Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ.  For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 

Observation-What does it say?:  Because the city of Corinth is a trade hub, where people from different cultural backgrounds and far off locales converged, we see how God’s grace is truly meant for all people.  Paul points out that we are all subject to Christ and the Holy Spirit, who poured out grace and spiritual gifts on us.  Furthermore, we are dependent on the other members of our body in fulfilling God’s will in the world and in our individual lives.  Because of the nature of the city, there couldn’t have been a better place to show the impartiality of God’s love.  God loves us no matter what our background, and he gives us gifts based on his need.

Understanding-What does it mean?:  It seems to me, in retrospect, the trying times in my life have been some of the best times in my life.  They are never fun in the moment, but I always seem to learn and grow the most.  They are also the times that I have experienced the love of the church the most, and was able to see my dependence on others.  

While living in Oregon during bible college, I came down with the most painful stomach ache of my life.  I ended up in the hospital for a few days, with no sign of what the cause was.  I ended up having to have “exploratory surgery.”  When the doctor told me what was going to happen, I was in so much pain that my concern for what “exploratory” meant didn’t matter.  I wanted the pain to stop, and I didn’t care how it happened.  During the surgery, the doctor found my small intestine had wrapped around a piece of scar tissue from another surgery.  This blocked my small intestine and cut a hole in the wall of that organ.

I spent almost a month in the hospital while I recovered.  While there, I was visited by a large number of my class mates and people from church.  They prayed over me and offered love and encouragement in an overwhelming way.  I had only been in school for about two months before going into the hospital, so I barely knew any of these people.  But, God was showing me how much I needed other people.  He was showing me how much I needed to depend on Him.  In my best times, I tend to act like I don’t need others and that I can take care of myself.  But when I am struggling, I experience God’s love and provision through the kind acts of the church body.

Paul wrote to the Ephesians that Jesus is the “head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way” (1:22-23).  When we act in our area of gifting, we are helping to make the body work how it should.  Where I lack, others may excel, and I can only thank God for those around me.

Life Application:  Jesus, help me to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit and how I am gifted.  I know that my gifting is meant for a certain purpose in Your will and plan.  Thank you for the diversity of the people you have called to work for you, that through all of the parts of the body You are glorified.  

-Tyler Galloway