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DAY 22

Loving Gifts

[5 minutes]
Mindsetter Moment: Have you noticed how much the Psalmists write about land? It seems like the evil people are always going to “get what’s coming to them.” While the righteous/godly person is getting…..drumroll please….LAND. What if you are a righteous person who doesn’t want land? What if you are godly, but don’t like farming?

Land, in the context of the Psalms, represents the promises of God, or good gifts from God. Today’s Psalm says “hope in the Lord and keep his way. He will exalt you to inherit the land….” Psalm 37:34a

As we hope in the Lord and continue to follow His path for us, he will be faithful to fulfill his promises. Sometimes it takes a bit longer than we want, so don’t give up! Stay faithful and patient as you wait on God.

[15 minutes]
Scripture reading:

Job 4:1-7:21
1 Corinthians 14:18-40
Psalm 37:30-40
Proverbs 21:27

Devotional thought
Go after a life of love as if your life depended on it—because it does. Give yourselves to the gifts God gives you. Most of all, try to proclaim his truth. 1 Corinthians 14:1 (MSG)

It has been several days since we discussed Paul’s letter to the church in Corinth. You’ll probably recall that this church was having a hard time getting along with each other. There were disagreements, arguments, and grumbling. Any mom who has dealt with sibling rivalry at home can probably relate well to the tone of this letter.

It can be helpful to remember that Paul did not write the letter to the Corinthians as a biblical book with chapters and verses. He wrote it as a letter to friends. Often where we see a change in topic, Paul meant for the thoughts to flow together. In Chapter 13, Paul writes about the importance of love. Now in Chapter 14, he starts by reminding us to chase after a life of love in all we do, especially in our interactions with other believers and most importantly as we use our gifts.

Have you ever given someone a gift you regretted? Perhaps one of your children has received a loud toy that wouldn’t turn off. Or a kazoo. Those things are horrible. Sometimes I wonder if God feels like a parent who accidentally gave their child a kazoo. God blesses us with gifts so we can bless others. Instead of blessing others, we can be tempted to use those gifts for our own personal agenda.

What applies to me?
The church at Corinth was beginning to look like a bunch of preschoolers with kazoos. Talking over one another, comparing blessings, and ranking each other on a scale of blessed to highly favored; this group had lost the plot.

When we go to church in America most of us stand for a worship service and then sit in rows of chairs while a pastor or leader teaches. The early church looked less like our modern church and more like our modern small groups. It is in this setting of circles rather than rows that the people of Corinth were arguing and competing.

Imagine if every time you went to church the pastor and worship leader got into a fight over which one of them was better? That would be incredibly awkward! Before we think this has nothing to do with us and judge too harshly, let’s think about our circle relationships. While we might not criticize other Christians when we are at church, what are we saying on the car ride home? How do we treat newcomers and people who have different beliefs in our small group?

Do we need to set everyone “straight?” Do we make things about ourselves and our own knowledge? Can we seek to understand others without judgment or competition? As we chase this life of love we are called to, let’s set down the proverbial kazoos and choose instead to share our gifts with love and encouragement.

[10 minutes]
Write it out: How do you express love to those around you? Feel free to think of anyone you express love to, but be sure to include your brothers and sisters in Christ. How do you use your God-given gifts to build up other believers?

Pray it out: Like a fire being fanned into a greater flame, ask God to grow and expand your gifts for His glory and to the benefit of those around you. If you are unsure of what your gifts are, start with asking God to reveal them to you.

Live it out: Use your God-given gifts this week to strengthen and build others up in the Lord.