“I show you a still more excellent way” (1 Cor. 12:31).

Biblical love is characterized by humility, obedience to God, and self-sacrifice.

In our society, love is a common word but an uncommon experience. Often those who use the word most understand it least. Many who think they’ve found love have really settled for something far less than God intended for them.

For many, love means a romantic or sexual relationship. While Scripture has much to say about intimacy within marriage, the word love takes on a different meaning in the New Testament. Even Ephesians 5:25 (“Husbands, love your wives”) doesn’t refer to romantic love.

Other common errors include equating love with emotionalism or sentimentality, or confusing it with a friendly spirit of tolerance and brotherhood toward others—often apart from any consideration for doctrinal purity or biblical convictions. But biblical love is none of those.

The “more excellent way” Paul refers to in 1 Corinthians 12:31 is love that comes from God Himself and conforms to His holy attributes. We have no capacity to generate it on our own. The Greek word for that kind of love is agape, and it is characterized by humility, obedience to God, and self-sacrifice. John 13:1 says of Christ’s love for His disciples, “He loved them to the end.” That literally means He loved them to perfection—to the limits of love. In verses 4-5 He demonstrates His love by washing their feet. Love is humble. It focuses on meeting needs.

In addition, love is obedient and willing to make sacrifices for others. Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15). God made the supreme sacrifice for us in that He “so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son” (John 3:16).

First Corinthians 13 applies to Christians of every generation because we all face the danger of misusing our spiritual gifts. As we study it and other passages about love, ask yourself if your love is all that God wants it to be. If not, take note of what changes you need to make in light of what you’re learning.

When we feel estranged from God or spiritually weak, we can find spiritual nourishment from God’s Word.

“As new born babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby” (1Peter2:2).

Ask God to give you a renewed desire for relationship with Him and begin feeding your heart, soul and mind with his Word.
Feeding on God’s Word keeps us strong and healthy in the Lord.

“[The Israelites] set out…to cross over the Jordan, with the priests bearing the ark of the covenant before [them].” — Joshua 3:14
As the Israelites had to cross over the River Jordan, they had to engage in a test of faith. Exercising their faith allowed them to see that God was with them. He was still directing Joshua, and He will help them settle in Canaan (v.7,10,17).

If you are facing a test of faith, you can move forward based on God’s character and His unfailing promises. Relying on Him will help you move from where you are to where He wants you to be.

Fear fades when we trust our Father.

Jesus, the Lord of the Universe and the Creator of all things – chose to dwell among us. As John says “he beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father” (John1:14).
Jesus chose to become intimately involved with all who will come to Him. And, even more significant, for those of us who have received His redeeming love, the Holy Spirit has now set up residence in our hearts to comfort, counsel, convict, lead and teach us.
Lord, I’m amazed that You, the greatest One of all, would take up residence within us! Help us to treasure the gift of Your presence as our ultimate joy. Draw us to Yourself to enjoy intimacy with You.

“[Jesus] made himself of no reputation…coming in the likeness of men” — Phil2:7

Being like us, Jesus is no stranger to our struggles. He experienced deep loneliness and betrayal of a dear friend. He was publicly shamed, misunderstood and falsely accused. In short, He feels our pain. As a result, the writer of Hebrews tells us that we can “come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb4:16).

Thank you Lord for wrapping Yourself in our likeness! Remind us that You understand our struggles and that we can confidently take advantage of the mercy and grace You offer to make us victorious.

Jesus taught us to pray in His name. The night before He was crucified, He gave a promise to His disciples: “until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask and you will receive, that your joy may be full” (John16:24). But the promise of asking in Jesus’ name is not a blank cheque that we might get anything to fulfill our personal whims.
Jesus taught that He answers requests made in His name so that He will bring glory to the Father (John14:13). Jesus Himself later prayed “O my Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will” (Matt26:39). As we pray, we ought to yield to God’s wisdom, love and sovereignty.
Nothing lies beyond the reach of prayer except that which lies outside the will of God.

“From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” — Eph4:16

Redwood trees do not grow like pines or oaks with individual root systems. Rather, their root systems, while relatively shallow, are completely interconnected. The trees themselves are all outgrowths of a parent tree, and they grow around the parent in a complete circle. This has placed a key role in their survival in being able to hold one another up with the merged roots. No known wind can topple them. Virtually no disease can kill them. They thrive in fires. They are knit together inextricably and bound together in the longest living family on record.

That is Paul’s definition for the church.  We may look separate and individual but in our roots we are one – each an outgrowth of Christ our Head.

Father, thank you that we as the church are a living and dynamic extension of you and your work. Strengthen your church today.