* New Testament Reading: 1 Corinthians 13
Psalms Reading: Psalm 60
Old Testament Reading: Numbers Introduction – see below
1 Corinthians 13 (The Love Chapter) actually begins at the end of Chapter 12 with these words, “And now I will show you the most excellent way.” Paul has just wrapped up his lists of Spiritual gifts, reminding us that we, as Christians, are all members of the body of Christ. After telling us that we should desire the higher (more essential or useful) gifts, he states that there is an even better way to be useful to the body. The most excellent way.
Chapter 13 begins with an IF. IF I am great, IF I can do great things, IF I can understand great things, IF I make great sacrifices….
What are you really good at? Known for? Everyone in our church knows Todd is phenomenal with numbers. He has often said it’s too bad he can’t make a living impressing people with his quick math skills. Everyone is good at something, but that might not matter in the big picture.
The IF part in the first three verses is followed each time with “but have not love”. You can be the greatest at everything, but if you don’t have love you are “a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal”, “nothing’, “gain nothing”. That’s pretty powerful. What motivates us to do what we do obviously matters a great deal. Paul is trying to communicate with us the overriding importance of love.
You’ve probably heard verses 4-8a read at a wedding. A beautiful description of how to love. One that we cannot fully accomplish in our humanity. Pulling from different translations, here is the description of true love:
Love is: patient; kind; rejoices with the truth; bears all things; believes all things; hopes all things; endures all things; it always protects, trusts, hopes, and perseveres; it never ends or fails.
Love is not: it does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant, proud, or rude; it does not insist on its own way; it is not self-seeking; it is not easily angered; it keeps no record of wrongs; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing.
Love won’t end. Spiritual gifts, and our need for them will end. Prophecies will end. Speaking in tongues will end. Knowledge will end. Love will not end.
Keep in mind as you read these lists that God loves us like that. God loves YOU like that. John 13:34-35 says, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” We are to love others how God loves us. It’s what shows the world we are His.
-Todd and Amy Blanchard
- Do you KNOW that God loves you with a love that is described here? Do you FEEL His love? What steps might you need to take to assure yourself of that love?
- On a scale of 1-10, how well do you love others (following the description of love in this chapter)?
- Which of the “Love is” or “Love is not” traits do you see from God in your life right now?
The book of Numbers gets its name from the census that was taken both at the beginning of the book, while the Israelites were still at Mount Sinai, and also at the end of the book, when the Israelites were on the plains of Moab near Jericho 38 years later. And in case you’re wondering why it took the ancient Israelites so long to travel from Egypt to the Promised Land, you’ll find out in chapters 13 and 14. And by the way, this wasn’t just a small group of people walking through the desert – there were millions of them.
As you read through Numbers, you will see repeatedly that there are consequences for complaining and rebellion – and they aren’t good. Punishments range from fire from the Lord to the earth swallowing people alive to plagues to snakes. There will even be punishment for Moses’ striking a rock instead of speaking to it – because he didn’t obey God’s command.
You will read about Moses begging God repeatedly to spare the people, when God wanted to wipe them out because of their rebellion – reminding us of what Jesus is doing on our behalf in heaven right now. You’ll also read about a bronze snake lifted up on a pole, which Jesus compared with himself.
The story of Balaam and his talking donkey show that God can use anyone, even a donkey, even me, even you. You’ll also read about how Balaam told the Moabites what to do to cause God to curse Israel – even after Balaam had blessed Israel. And you’ll read that he paid with his life.
Numbers is filled with excitement, and also with examples – both good and bad. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 10:6, “Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did.” So pay attention as you read.
I’ll close with Numbers 6:24-26, “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.”