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Devotional: August 16, 2021

So here’s what I think: The best thing you can do right now is to finish what you started last year and not let those good intentions grow stale. Your heart’s been in the right place all along. You’ve got what it takes to finish it up, so go to it. Once the commitment is clear, you do what you can, not what you can’t. The heart regulates the hands. This isn’t so others can take it easy while you sweat it out. No, you’re shoulder to shoulder with them all the way, your surplus matching their deficit, their surplus matching your deficit. In the end you come out even. 2 Corinthians 8: 10-13 The Message Sometimes, we doubt ourselves and our ability, when we really do not need to. Here, Paul is encouraging the Christians in Corinth to follow through with their good intentions. Whatever they had begun, perhaps a certain ministry, Paul encouraged them to continue on with what they had started. Continuing on with something good you started, is almost always wise. Sometimes, we end up accomplishing absolutely nothing. It happens when we may have started with one thing, got distracted by something else, and then worked on something else entirely. We may cover lots of varied territory, but it is really a bunch of zig zags. You may find yourself going around in circles, ending up going nowhere. It is far better to select a heading, and continue to hold to it, with perseverance. This is one of the reasons why the author of the Message Bible translation, Eugene Peterson, titled one of his books, “A Long Obedience in the Same Direction.” That is exactly what many people need! It may be helpful to work with others. Sometimes, it keeps us pointed in the right direction. The other benefit of working together is that we can help and encourage one another. As Paul puts it, “You’re shoulder to shoulder with them all the way, your surplus matching their deficit, their surplus matching your deficit.” None of us can doeverything well ourselves. We do not have all the skills for all tasks. If we think we do, we are kidding ourselves. That is why Christ reminded us that we are all parts of the body of Christ. The key word is “parts”. I recently saw a meme/cartoon which reinforced this truth. It showed a picture of a cruise ship, with the following line, “The church is not a cruise ship, where a handful of people serve everyone else who is relaxing.” This was contrasted with a picture of a battleship, with this caption, “No, the church is a battleship, where it’s ‘all hands on deck’ and everyone serves the mission.” With our individual gifts and talents, each of us must contribute to our shared ministry. It is only in this way that we will accomplish our goal. May we each strive to use the skills the Lord has given us, so that the body of Christ is a healthy and inspiring example to others of the loving relationships God desires for all of us. Whether we are hands, or feet, or even just a smile, we all are an integral part of the whole body of Christ. Hallelujah! and Amen. Prayer Holy God, Thank You for reminding me that no matter what I have to offer to you, it is significant in your eyes. Help me to accept that asking others for help is not a weakness, but a sign of strength. It serves as a reminder of Your desire for us to all work together. Encourage me when I grow weary. Remind me that Your perfect design is for us to grow in love towards others and You. Thank you for the way in which we can all help and encourage one another with our unique and precious gifts from You. I pray this prayer in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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