Daily Bible Readings:
Monday, January 3. Read Ephesians 4:11-16. 1) For what did Paul say that spiritual gifts are given? 2) Against what did Paul say we must protect ourselves?
Tuesday, January 4. Read 1 Timothy 4:6-8. 1) What did Paul tell Timothy would nourish him? 2) In what discipline should Timothy train himself? 3) What would that training would resemble?
Wednesday, January 5. Read 1 Peter 2:1-3. 1) What metaphor does Peter use to describe spiritual hunger? 2) What will spiritual nurture do for uss?
Thursday, January 6. Read 1 Corinthians 2:14-16. 1) What qualifies one to be “unspiritual”? 2) How do unspiritual people regard spiritual matters? 3) What is the source of a spiritual way of thinking?
Friday, January 7. Read 1 Corinthians 3:1-4. 1) Why do you think Paul was disappointed in the Corinthians? 2) What kind of spiritual food did he have to give them, as a result? 3) What did he really want to feed them? 4) What kind of food are you eating?
Saturday, January 8. Read Hebrews 5:11-14. This is Sunday’s sermon text.
Prayer for the Week:
God of the perfect. Creator of all that’s good and right. We want to be like you and to enter into the life you have designed for us. Please help us to focus our attentions on matters of the Spirit and living in accord with the Spirit’s guidance. Help us to not be too easy on ourselves but to strive with deep love for and commitment to your purposes. In Jesus’ name we pray this. Amen.
Hymn of the Week:
More holiness give me
by P.P. Bliss, 1873
More holiness give me,
More striving within;
More patience in suff’ring,
More sorrow for sin;
More faith in my Savior,
More sense of His care.
More joy in His service,
More purpose in prayer.
More gratitude give me,
More trust in the Lord;
More pride in His glory,
More hope in His word;
More tears for His sorrows,
More pain at His grief;
More meekness in trial,
More praise for relief.
More purity give me,
More strength to o’ercome;
More freedom from earth-stains,
More longings for home;
More fit for the kingdom,
More used would I be;
More blessèd and holy,
More, Savior, like Thee.
Devotional Article of the Week:
The Means to Growth
Does difficulty really lead to something better?
by Rubel Shelly
Most of us have areas of life in which we need to grow. We need more patience. We want greater self-discipline. We long to strengthen our families, contribute to our friends, and make a difference.
Then come the setbacks. She doesn’t get the educational opportunities she had dreamed of and sought. He is seriously hurt in a car wreck. A business fails. There is a chronic illness. Some terrible personal tragedy strikes.
Believe it or not, growth and setbacks seem to be related. All sorts of studies point to it. Most people who survive great personal trauma aren’t destroyed by it. They survive. They learn. They develop still-closer personal relationships. They grow from their experience.
Most of us know the term post-traumatic stress, but some experts in the field of mental health are now using the term post-traumatic growth. They point to people who emerge from severe life crises feeling enlarged rather than diminished. They speak of spiritual development, stronger personal relationships, greater personal strength, deeper appreciation of life, and clarity about priorities.
“We’re talking about a positive change that comes about as a result of the struggle with something very difficult,” Dr. Lawrence Calhoun of the University of North Carolina said. “It’s not just some automatic outcome of a bad thing.” To be sure, some people bring a fuller sense of security in life to a trauma. They have a better support system. They had already learned to rely more on God than self.
I know people who illustrate this phenomenon. A woman who survived a painful divorce from a cruelly abusive man is doing well in a career she never planned to have and caring for two children who have been protected from what she once had to endure. A man who wasn’t supposed to survive widespread cancer seems perfectly healthy seven years after his diagnosis. A woman who didn’t think she could survive her husband’s death is happily married to a man who felt equally devastated at the loss of his wife two years earlier.
God made body, mind, and spirit to be marvelously resilient. Injury or illness, divorce or bankruptcy, relocation or cherished person’s death — each has the capacity to crush or dignify, disorient forever or reorient to the people and things that matter most. Since God gave us the capacity to overcome, we are more likely to do so by consciously seeking him than by fleeing in our confusion.
Tragedy spares no one. God gives grace not only to survive, but also to grow.