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1.  1 Corinthians 13:1-2 “noisy gong, clanging cymbal”
2.  1 Peter 3:15 “revere Christ; gentleness and respect”
3.  Philippians 2:12 “fear and trembling”

Devotional 1.  1 Corinthians 13:1-2  “If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.”

When you discuss apologetics issues, are you motivated by the counter-conditional love demonstrated for you on the cross?  Who of us is not familiar with someone, perhaps our own self, who has said the phrase “Do as I say, not as I do” and does not even take their own medicine?  The message we send to others is sent every bit as much, if not more, in the way it is delivered.  If we speak counter-conditional love, but attempt to deliver it in haughty impatience, the former is heard louder than the latter.  In this passage, Paul is counseling the Corinthian church, not in order to write a fluff piece on love, and not to discourage them from the gifts of tongues, prophecy, knowledge or faith, but to correct their priorities.  Long after we even need these gifts of the Spirit, the love to which they point will remain.  If they are not being used for love, they are just noise, they are nothing, sandcastles for the tides.  All who are drawn to learning and sharing apologetics have been given a gift, and it is a gift of love.  This is especially important when you consider that, for many who are skeptical, their problem with Jesus is not a ‘head’ issue, but a ‘heart’ issue.  They were abused in church, or shunned by a legalistic church, or all the ‘churchy’ people they know are hypocritical gossips or debate them and eachother with poisonous vitriol.  Are you showing them the face of love; are you showing them Christ when you discuss apologetics issues with them, and in all your other dealings with them?  Do you show love to your fellow apologists in the way you challenge their thinking, so that it builds up rather than tears down?  What does it matter how many answers you have to share or how much you know, if you do not share those answers in love?  If you have forgotten love, how thirsty your soul must be.  Jesus, be our living water and overflow through us to others in the words we speak to them and the way we live outwardly and inwardly.

Devotional 2.  1 Peter 3:15 “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.”

What is the first verse you think of whenever someone asks you if apologetics is in the Bible?  Probably 1 Peter 3:15, right?  Do you ever find yourself quoting the middle of that verse and leaving out its context?  Do you ever find that you neglect its context in your apologetics work?  Let’s explore this a little bit.  Peter tells us:  “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.”  It is so easy to quote this segment of the verse without its context, because not only does it appeal to our intellect by asking us to give the reason, it also appeals to our heart by calling attention to our hope.  But as often as this verse is quoted, almost as often neglected is its context.  We can see the outcome of that neglect when we shy away from sharing him with others and when we become rude and impatient in the face of perceived persecution.  This verse begins, “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord.”  Peter is telling us not to be afraid of persecution, but instead to respect Christ, because he is greater than any threat.  The Gospel, God’s loving us no matter what, demonstrated on the cross, is greater than the consequences we fear in sharing Christ with others.  This verse ends, “But do this with gentleness and respect.”  It is only because Jesus is greater than the consequences that we can share him with gentleness and respect, in the face of persecution.  Do you ever find yourself shying away from opportunities to share Christ with others?  Do you find yourself becoming rude and impatient in the face of perceived persecution, to the point that the reasons you are giving become a resounding gong, a clanging cymbal?  Jesus, no matter how many reasons we have under our belt, let us not neglect our reverence of you as Lord and Savior of our hearts; let us not fall victim to fear and to acting from that fear; rather, strengthen us with your hope so that we share you, our reason, with others, even those who are against us, with gentleness and respect.

Devotional 3.  Philippians 2:12—“…continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling.”

God produces fear and trembling in us because He exposes the most vulnerable in us.  It is like when you are terrified to ask a girl out.  If asking her out remains a task until you finally ask her—you are always going to be terrified as long as you hesitate (in despair, for you deeply need her and attempting to replace her with innumerable lesser pleasures, or to erect a wall around your heart as if you need nothing, only points out the reality of your despair).  But, after the task comes the relationship.  And God is like a girl whose love for you never changes, so that when you are unfaithful or doubt her love—she remains constant.  A girl like that is terrifying.  It is terrifying enough to open your heart to an ordinary girl—but this is no ordinary girl, and she demands your entire, vulnerable heart—complete transparency.  You might lose respect for a girl who would remain constant though you are unfaithful, but this is no naïve girl who lacks self-respect.  She does not love from a lack.  You either choose greatness with her, or the mud—in being unfaithful, you fool only yourself.  She always knew which you would choose.  What are you choosing now?  That is why some fear death—it reminds them they chose poorly every moment of their life, and that they will no longer have time to ask that terrifying girl out.  They used her creations but kept a safe distance all the while, whereas Abraham spared not even his promised son (Genesis 22:2, Hebrews 11:19, Genesis 22:13).  After death they will have to spend eternity without her—they must either banish that fear and trembling from their minds and have faith she never existed (eternal spiritlessness), or choose her now, with fear and trembling.  Lord, I choose you.  Or, rather, I choose you back.

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