In 1974, revolutionary militants kidnapped Patty Hearst. Over time, it appeared that she began to sympathize with her captors. The nineteen-year-old daughter of a wealthy publisher joined her captors in a bank robbery. Her allegiance to her captors was explained by the concept of the Stockholm Syndrome.
People who live in a dysfunctional and abusive situation often accept that lifestyle as normal. When given the opportunity to live in freedom, they often revert to living like a captive. When Hearst was freed, she chose to remain associated with those who had mistreated her.
Satan holds all people captive before they accept Jesus as Savior. Those who have experienced salvation are set free from the evil influences of their captor.
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom (2 Corinthians 3:17).
Living in sin or attempting to please God by keeping all the rules results in bondage. Freedom is available if you listen to the Spirit of God and walk according to His guidance.
Thought for Today: Christians can live in spiritual freedom.
Quicklook: 2 Corinthians 3:7–18
Legendary football coach Vince Lombardi once said, “I firmly believe that any man’s finest hour, the greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear, is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle victorious.”
Lombardi’s words hold true for Christians. It is hard work to stand up to natural and spiritual enemies. Paul said that all of the struggles associated with faith will be worth the effort expended when a believer meets Jesus.
Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58).
There are various types of struggles Christians face. Some Christians give their lives as a result of persecution. Others face unfair work situations because they hold fast to Christian values. Some feel the enemy’s attack through challenges in their personal lives. Christians will find the strength they need if they keep their eyes fixed on the prize that awaits them when they stand in the presence of Jesus.
Prayer Suggestion: Pray for the persecuted Christians around the world.
Quicklook: 1 Corinthians 15:51–58
Abraham Maslow argued that one of the five basic needs all humans have is to feel secure. A part of the security people seek is to feel accepted and to have a purpose in life. Many people fail to find their purpose and therefore feel insecure.
Insecurity should not be a part of the Christian’s life. God has given each person a purpose. He has designed every individual with gifts and talents that He wants them to use to further His kingdom. Not everyone will have a task that places them on a stage or results in fame. But every task is important because it assigned by God.
On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable (1 Corinthians 12:22).
Christians must not compare themselves to others. They must focus on the task God has given to them and do it with passion and excellence. Every role is essential if the kingdom of God is to expand as God desires. You have an important part to play in accomplishing this goal.
Challenge for Today: Ask God what He wants you to do to expand His kingdom and then do it.
Quicklook: 1 Corinthians 12:12–26
We are in the midst of one of the most difficult seasons to stay physically fit. Most people are regretting how much they ate over the Thanksgiving holiday and are dreading getting on the scale after all the holiday candy and desserts that lie ahead during the Christmas season. It is no wonder that one of the most common New Year’s resolutions people make is to lose weight.
While what people do with their bodies does matter to God, weight was not what Paul was addressing when he penned his first letter to the Christians at Corinth.
Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own (1 Corinthians 6:19).
Paul was pressing the Corinthians to avoid sexual immorality. The Bible is clear. Those who engage in sexual sin must repent if they are to enter heaven. The condition of your faith will be reflected in your behavior.
Thought for Today: Christians must care for their bodies and honor God through how they use their bodies.
Quicklook: 1 Corinthians 6:12–20
The United States has just come through yet another hotly contested political season. Democrats and Republicans both believed that they had the right answers for the country. Instead of unifying the nation, the two sides created an atmosphere where unity seems to be impossible.
The church in Corinth was facing tensions based on the opposing opinions of honest people. Each group thought they had the right approach to move the church forward. Paul explains that no one, in their own wisdom, has the answer for the success of the church. It is only when Christians recognize the wisdom of God and follow His leading that the church will accomplish His purposes.
For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength (1 Corinthians 1:25).
God desires for Christians to live in unity with one another. Disunity is often tied to an inflated ego. No matter how intelligent you are, you must submit your intelligence to God’s intelligence. When everyone in the church begins to listen to God and walk according to His will, the church will experience God’s blessings and His peace.
Thought for Today: Peace with others begins with a proper view of God.
Quicklook: 1 Corinthians 1:18–30
Brittany accepted Jesus as her Savior as a teenager. She loved the Lord and longed to serve Him. But there was a huge problem. Brittany lacked the courage to share her faith with others. When she was in high school, she had only a couple friends and frequently endured put-downs by her peers. The inferiority Brittany felt continued into adulthood. The church she belonged to had lots of highly educated professionals. She had never been to college. As a housewife, she felt inadequate to make a meaningful contribution, but God provides what His people need to do His work.
For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline
(2 Timothy 1:7).
One night she participated in a small group where the members made montages to depict what they felt God was calling them to do. Fearfully, she held hers up and said, “I believe God is calling me to a nationwide writing and speaking ministry.” Dead silence followed!
Today, Brittany is in full-time ministry.
Challenge for Today: Do whatever God is calling you to do.
Quicklook: 2 Timothy 1:5–10