Bible reading for September 7.
2 Samuel 1.
"Your glory, O Israel, is slain on your high places! How the mighty have fallen!" (2 Samuel 1:19)
FALLEN. The appearance of an Amalekite at Saul's death was a twist of irony, given the events of 1 Samuel 15. Perhaps Saul had revived somewhat from his own sword wound, then to be killed by this man, or perhaps this man just came upon the scene and took trophies and hoped for some reward from David. Either way, the Amalekite dies for his treachery. Despite Saul's hostility toward him, David grieves the loss of Israel's first king and his sons in battle. His psalm honors Saul and Jonathan, and gives credit for their contributions to the national security and prosperity that Israel experienced over his forty-year reign. David is not bitter, angry, or vengeful, but gives honor where honor is due.
REFLECT. Sometimes we may come to have a view of a prominent leader that is tarnished by his or her faults. But often we overlook the good that has been done. We should be able to give thanks and honor where it is due (Rom 13:7). Are you aware of, and giving proper recognition to those who, despite their blemishes, have made good contributions to the public welfare? Do you give thanks to God for his kind providence in giving us rulers who maintain our national security? This should not be taken lightly.
1 Corinthians 12.
"To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good." (1 Corinthians 12:7)
SPIRITUAL GIFTS. The next three chapters cover a topic that the Corinthian believers were very interested in. It seems that these gifts, listed in the chapter, had a certain order of prestige to them and people were measuring their (and other's) importance based upon the gifts. Some of these gifts have to do with speaking, and Paul starts out by saying our verbal confessions of faith are a manifestation of the Holy Spirit (vv 1-3). In emphasizing that this work is God's work, Paul names the three Persons of the Trinity (vv 4-6), and that these gifts are not given for individual blessing but for the welfare of the church (v 7). He lists the gifts (vv 8-10; 28-30; compare: Rom 12:6-8; Eph 4:11-16) and teaches us a) there is a diversity of gifts; b) they are given sovereignly by God; and c) every gift is needed for the church to function well. Implied also is that no one gift is universal, no one has all the gifts, and the presence of spiritual gifts is not an indication of spiritual maturity or attainment. Refer to Constable's notes on this chapter for more detail.
BODY LIFE. Much of what Paul writes in this chapter is an extended illustration -- how the body of Christ is like our human body. There is one head, and all the parts of the body are working together in harmony. Each part has a distinctive function. Each part needed. Some parts seem more important than others, but we soon realize that visible appearance is no measure. What would we do without our feet? Paul says our goal should be this: "...that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it" (vv 25-27).
REFLECT. As a pastor I was more visible in church ministry than others, and often received credit (well, blame, too sometimes) for things that many people had a hand in. On any particular Sunday we might have a wonderful service and the congregation left spiritually encouraged. But the sermon, as important as it may be, was only one part of the ministry. Musicians led the songs of worship, ushers led people to their seats, nursery workers cared for children, teachers taught Sunday school, A/V people made the audio and visuals happen, people prepared for communion, and a host of people worked all morning: greeting, praying, door-keepers, library, refreshments, and the list goes on. On top of that were the many people praying for us through the week and giving financially to support our staff, missionaries, and property. On any given Sunday morning there were over a hundred people serving so that many others could meet together for encouragement. What hidden servants might you encourage this week for their ministry to the church? Who could you give thanks for today?
Image credit. Detail, anatomical study of the arm, by Leonardo da Vinci (c. 1510). Wikimedia Commons.
We are following the Robert Murray M'Cheyne (RMM) two-year reading schedule, as arranged by D. A. Carson.
Scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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