*LAST POST* Monday’s Blog: Paul Series “1 Corinthians 16”

*Update (6/19/14)* Last September, I started a series on Paul’s letters with plans to go through a chapter a week from Romans through Philemon. As I’ve been studying his letters in Romans and Corinthians, I’ve felt for the last couple months God has been leading me in a different direction than I had originally thought. I was studying 2 Corinthians 2 this week and it opened my eyes to what God has been speaking to me all along. In verse 12-13, Paul wrote, “Now when I came to Troas for the gospel of Christ and when a door was opened for me in the Lord, I had no rest for my spirit, not finding Titus my brother; but taking my leave of them, I went on to Macedonia” (NASB).

Even though there are open doors for me to continue ministering online, I have not felt at peace in my spirit lately. I shared recently on another ministry site how God has answered a long time prayer by bringing my husband closer to Him. From the moment God called me to start writing five years ago, I have prayed I would not be alone in ministry, ministering apart from my husband and children. I know for a time it had to be, but I feel God is answering that prayer now as He is drawing me and my husband, and our children, closer together than ever before. So I must prayerfully stop writing for now as we seek the Lord together for His will. I don’t know yet where He will lead us or if He will lead me to resume writing again. But I trust that He will always direct us in the right path, as Proverbs 3:6 promises In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”

Thank you to all my readers  who have  welcomed and encouraged me through the years. I pray God’s blessings to be continually upon this site and that He’d continue to use these past messages to lead people to Christ and into a deeper relationship with Him.

Blessings to you all,

Amanda Beth

 

*Original post (5/20/14)*

This is the last Monday’s blog I will be posting on this site. I am prayerfully making some changes to my blog, and will be changing the days I post. I am not sure yet when I will have it ready to start posting again.

This is the last message in Paul’s letters in 1 Corinthians. If you would like to continue following this series, I will continue with 2 Corinthians in two weeks at these websites: Tuesdays at Brother Stephan McCarroll and Thursdays (Singapore time – Wednesdays U.S. time) at Christian Blessings.

We end our study of 1 Corinthians this week with 1 Corinthians 16.

Paul writes:

Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I directed the churches of Galatia, so do you also. On the first day of every week each one of you is to put aside and save, as he may prosper, so that no collections be made when I come. When I arrive, whomever you may approve, I will send them with letters to carry your gift to Jerusalem; and if it is fitting for me to go also, they will go with me.

v. 1-4 (NASB)

The KJV for the second verse reads “Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him…” Everything God asks us to give away, whether it be money, love, forgiveness, etc., we can be sure that He has first given it to us.  We are more willing to give when we are not in lack. If we lack receiving God’s provision for our needs, we will be less willing to give to meet someone else’s needs. If we lack receiving God’s forgiveness for our mistakes, we will be less willing to forgive others for their mistakes. We have to receive from God before we can give to others.

Paul continues:

But I will come to you after I go through Macedonia, for I am going through Macedonia; and perhaps I will stay with you, or even spend the winter, so that you may send me on my way wherever I may go. For I do not wish to see you now just in passing; for I hope to remain with you for some time, if the Lord permits. But I will remain in Ephesus until Pentecost; for a wide door for effective service has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.

v. 5-9 (NASB)

The doors God opens will be effective and produce the fruit He desires. Those open doors will also bring opposition. We must continually remember that He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world. Satan may come against us, but he has no authority to prevent us from fulfilling God’s plan.

Paul continues:

Now if Timothy comes, see that he is with you without cause to be afraid, for he is doing the Lord’s work, as I also am. So let no one despise him. But send him on his way in peace, so that he may come to me; for I expect him with the brethren.

v. 10-11 (NASB)

Paul encouraged Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:12, “Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (KJV). Just because someone is younger does not mean they have less wisdom than someone who is older. Timothy may have felt inferior to the elders. But Paul knew his heart was humble before God. With humility, rather than age, comes true wisdom (Proverbs 11:2).

Paul continues:

But concerning Apollos our brother, I encouraged him greatly to come to you with the brethren; and it was not at all his desire to come now, but he will come when he has opportunity.

v. 12 (NASB)

I believe it wasn’t Apollos’ desire to come then, because it wasn’t God’s desire.  The Bible says Apollos was fervent in spirit (Acts 18:25). As we seek God and are filled with His Spirit, His desires become our desires.

Paul continues:

Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.

Now I urge you, brethren (you know the household of Stephanas, that they were the first fruits of Achaia, and that they have devoted themselves for ministry to the saints), that you also be in subjection to such men and to everyone who helps in the work and labors. I rejoice over the coming of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus, because they have supplied what was lacking on your part. For they have refreshed my spirit and yours. Therefore acknowledge such men.

v. 13-18 (NASB)

In verse 13 above, the word translated as “be on the alert” is grégoreó, which means “to be awake, to watch.” The same word was used in warnings to “wake up” the church in Sardis in Revelation 3, and to all the church in Revelation 16:

I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have found your deeds unfinished in the sight of my God. Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; hold it fast, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.

Revelation 3:1-3 (NIV)

“Look, I come like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake and remains clothed, so as not to go naked and be shamefully exposed.”

Revelation 16:15 (NIV)

Paul gives his final greetings reminding the Corinthians and us to remain in Christ, so as the verse above explains, we will not be unclothed and shamefully exposed in our sin when He returns.

The churches of Asia greet you. Aquila and Prisca greet you heartily in the Lord, with the church that is in their house. All the brethren greet you. Greet one another with a holy kiss.

The greeting is in my own hand—Paul. If anyone does not love the Lord, he is to be accursed. Maranatha. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you. My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen.

v. 19-24 (NASB)

Heavenly Father,

We praise You and receive all that You have given us through Jesus. Jesus said to remain in Him as He also remains in us. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can we bear fruit unless we remain in Him. Help us to remain in Him so we can stand up against Satan’s opposition and bear fruit to effectively do Your will. Humble us and fill us with Your wisdom and Your desires.

In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen!

*Follow this link to read previous posts in this series.


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Monday’s Blog: Paul Series “1 Corinthians 15”

We continue our study of Paul’s letters this week with 1 Corinthians 15. In this chapter, Paul talks about Christ’s resurrection and the resurrection of the dead. He explains that if there is no resurrection of the dead, as some of them were saying, then Christ would not have been raised from the dead. Christ died for our sins because we were dead in our sins, and He was raised to life for our redemption, as Colossians 2:13-15 explains, When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross” (NIV).

Paul further explains:

Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also. For I am the least of the apostles, and not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me. Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.

Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we testified against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.

v. 1-19 (NASB)

Without Christ’s resurrection, we would still be dead in our sins. We abide in and preach Christ because we have been raised with Him and set free from our sins in this life and for all eternity. In that knowledge we have hope.

Paul explains the reason for and the order of resurrection to fulfill God’s ultimate plan, as he says below: “so that God may be all in all.”

But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming, then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be abolished is death. For HE HAS PUT ALL THINGS IN SUBJECTION UNDER HIS FEET. But when He says, “All things are put in subjection,” it is evident that He is excepted who put all things in subjection to Him. When all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all.

Otherwise, what will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why then are they baptized for them? Why are we also in danger every hour? I affirm, brethren, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily. If from human motives I fought with wild beasts at Ephesus, what does it profit me? If the dead are not raised, LET US EAT AND DRINK, FOR TOMORROW WE DIE. Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.” Become sober-minded as you ought, and stop sinning; for some have no knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame.

v. 20-34 (NASB)

Without Christ’s resurrection, we would have no hope or purpose in life. It wouldn’t matter what we believed in or did with our life if there were no consequences after life. Many people live with the mindset “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die” without any care for what happens after they die. Paul’s reminding the Corinthians and us to be eternally and spiritually minded, and to set our minds on Christ and His righteousness.

Paul closes the chapter, explaining what Christ has done for us by comparing our sinful body to our resurrected body.

But someone will say, “How are the dead raised? And with what kind of body do they come?” You fool! That which you sow does not come to life unless it dies; and that which you sow, you do not sow the body which is to be, but a bare grain, perhaps of wheat or of something else. But God gives it a body just as He wished, and to each of the seeds a body of its own. All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one flesh of men, and another flesh of beasts, and another flesh of birds, and another of fish. There are also heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is one, and the glory of the earthly is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory.

So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. So also it is written, “The first MAN, Adam, BECAME A LIVING SOUL.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural; then the spiritual. The first man is from the earth, earthy; the second man is from heaven. As is the earthy, so also are those who are earthy; and as is the heavenly, so also are those who are heavenly. Just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we will also bear the image of the heavenly.

Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP in victory. “O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY? O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.

v. 35-58 (NASB)

 

Heavenly Father,

We praise You for setting us free from our sins. We were perishable, but through Christ we are imperishable. We were in dishonor, but through Christ we are in glory. We were in weakness, but through Christ we are in power. We live in this world, but we do not belong to this world. We belong to You, Lord.  We will spend eternity with You because of Christ. You are our eternal hope.

In Jesus’ precious name we praise You, Amen!

 

*This series will continue next week as we study 1 Corinthians 16.


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Monday’s Blog: Paul Series “1 Corinthians 14”

We continue our study of Paul’s letters this week with 1 Corinthians 14. In the last chapter, Paul talked about possessing God’s “agape” love, which we have by receiving and remaining in His love. Paul begins chapter 14 instructing the Corinthians to pursue God’s “agape” love, but also to be eager to possess spiritual gifts in order to share His love with others.

Pursue love, yet desire earnestly spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy. For one who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God; for no one understands, but in his spirit he speaks mysteries. But one who prophesies speaks to men for edification and exhortation and consolation. One who speaks in a tongue edifies himself; but one who prophesies edifies the church. Now I wish that you all spoke in tongues, but even more that you would prophesy; and greater is one who prophesies than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may receive edifying.

v. 1-5 (NASB)

Many churches, including mine, do not encourage the use of sign gifts today, which include prophesy. I believe it’s because there’s been a lot of deception and wrong teachings regarding the use of spiritual gifts. Just because some have misused their spiritual gifts and caused deception, doesn’t mean we should omit the gifts all together. We shouldn’t limit what God wants to do through us out of fear of misunderstanding or misusing His gifts. Paul says to especially desire that we may prophesy because it edifies, exhorts, and consoles the church. God will often use His children to deliver a timely message to someone as an answer to their prayers, to encourage and build them up.

Many times God has used His people to deliver His message to me to edify, exhort or console me when I needed it. I’ll share a few examples.

Once was several years ago when I was going through some things and was in need of direction and wisdom from God. My birthday was approaching, so I asked God to send me answers to these specific issues on my birthday as a gift from Him. I requested it to be through someone I did not know, so I wouldn’t doubt it came from Him. When my birthday came around, I forgot I had prayed for Him to speak to me. I was skimming through my emails  that day, answering some friend requests on one of my social media accounts. After sending messages to each, thanking them for their friend request, I received a  lengthy reply from one man. Thinking it was spam or someone just trying to get me to support their cause, I hesitantly started reading it. The message he wrote, which he humbly said he felt God wanted him to share with me, spoke to everything I was going through at the time. These were not just general things I had requested answers to. These were specific requests that no one could have known about, especially someone who didn’t know me personally. God used His servant to deliver a timely message to me to edify me when I needed it.

Another time God delivered a message to me was through my husband. My husband was busy at work one day getting lined up on a job. His boss was giving him instructions when he felt the Lord suddenly speak to him to call me and tell me that he supported me. My husband didn’t know at that very moment I was on my knees at home crying and praying for support from my husband over something I knew God wanted me to do. God used my husband to bring me consolation right when I needed it.

God has also used His children to exhort me when I needed it. I was on my way to church one day when I felt led to go to my friend’s church instead. She had invited me several times in the past, but I never had a chance to go. I thought I’d show up and surprise her. Little did I know that I would be the one receiving the surprise. As the pastor was finishing up his message, and getting ready to close with a prayer, he stopped and spoke an exhortation that he said he didn’t plan on sharing but felt God strongly speaking through him to tell someone to forgive the exact person that I was struggling with forgiving (he stated their title of relation). I know without a doubt, God led me to that place that morning to receive the exhortation to forgive that person.

Paul continues explaining that we should be zealous of spiritual gifts for the edification of the church. We don’t need to be afraid of misusing our spiritual gifts if our heart is with God and we are motivated by Him to use those gifts to help others.

But now, brethren, if I come to you speaking in tongues, what will I profit you unless I speak to you either by way of revelation or of knowledge or of prophecy or of teaching? Yet even lifeless things, either flute or harp, in producing a sound, if they do not produce a distinction in the tones, how will it be known what is played on the flute or on the harp? For if the bugle produces an indistinct sound, who will prepare himself for battle? So also you, unless you utter by the tongue speech that is clear, how will it be known what is spoken? For you will be speaking into the air. There are, perhaps, a great many kinds of languages in the world, and no kind is without meaning. If then I do not know the meaning of the language, I will be to the one who speaks a barbarian, and the one who speaks will be a barbarian to me. So also you, since you are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek to abound for the edification of the church.

Therefore let one who speaks in a tongue pray that he may interpret. For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful. What is the outcome then? I will pray with the spirit and I will pray with the mind also; I will sing with the spirit and I will sing with the mind also. Otherwise if you bless in the spirit only, how will the one who fills the place of the ungifted say the “Amen” at your giving of thanks, since he does not know what you are saying? For you are giving thanks well enough, but the other person is not edified. I thank God, I speak in tongues more than you all; however, in the church I desire to speak five words with my mind so that I may instruct others also, rather than ten thousand words in a tongue.

v. 6-19 (NASB)

I went to a Christian conference once with three of my relatives. One relative had never been to a conference or had any interest in going at the time, but reluctantly went because one of the other relatives insisted she went. Throughout the entire conference, a woman behind us spoke out loud in tongues. It was so distracting that we couldn’t listen to the preacher speaking. I was embarrassed as my relative looked like she was ready to run out of the auditorium. The woman behind us was not using her gift for the edification of others. She was hurting others by hindering them from receiving the word the preacher was called to share.

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. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.

1 Corinthians 13:11-3 (NASB)

Paul closes addressing issues of disorder in the Corinthian church, and instructs that all things must be done properly and in an orderly manner, because God is not the author of confusion. We are to be mature in our thinking, using the wisdom God’s given us in His Word, and the gifts He’s given us through His Holy Spirit, to build up the church, not confuse and disrupt the church.

Brethren, do not be children in your thinking; yet in evil be infants, but in your thinking be mature. In the Law it is written, “BY MEN OF STRANGE TONGUES AND BY THE LIPS OF STRANGERS I WILL SPEAK TO THIS PEOPLE, AND EVEN SO THEY WILL NOT LISTEN TO ME,” says the Lord. So then tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe but to unbelievers; but prophecy is for a sign, not to unbelievers but to those who believe. Therefore if the whole church assembles together and all speak in tongues, and ungifted men or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are mad? But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or an ungifted man enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all; the secrets of his heart are disclosed; and so he will fall on his face and worship God, declaring that God is certainly among you.

What is the outcome then, brethren? When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification. If anyone speaks in a tongue, it should be by two or at the most three, and each in turn, and one must interpret; but if there is no interpreter, he must keep silent in the church; and let him speak to himself and to God. Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others pass judgment. But if a revelation is made to another who is seated, the first one must keep silent. For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all may be exhorted; and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets; for God is not a God of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.

The women are to keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but are to subject themselves, just as the Law also says. If they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is improper for a woman to speak in church. Was it from you that the word of God first went forth? Or has it come to you only?

If anyone thinks he is a prophet or spiritual, let him recognize that the things which I write to you are the Lord’s commandment. But if anyone does not recognize this, he is not recognized.

Therefore, my brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy, and do not forbid to speak in tongues. But all things must be done properly and in an orderly manner.

v. 20-40 (NASB)

 

Heavenly Father,

We praise You for filling us with Your love and equipping us with spiritual gifts for the edification, exhortation, and consolation of the church. Give us wisdom and knowledge how to use the gifts You’ve given us. Help us not to limit and hinder Your gifts out of fear of misunderstanding or misusing them. Keep our hearts full of You and our minds fixed on Your Word so we can clearly hear from You to reach out and meet the needs of others.

In Jesus’ faithful name, we pray. Amen!

 

*This series will continue next week as we study 1 Corinthians 15.

I just read this great explanation on the gift of prophecy and using it for the edification of the church. http://thebeausejourpulpit.wordpress.com/2013/03/08/the-gift-of-prophecy/

 

 

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Monday’s Blog: Paul Series “1 Corinthians 13”

We continue our study of Paul’s letters this week with 1 Corinthians 13. In the last chapter, Paul talked about the different Spiritual gifts God bestows upon His children. He ended the chapter saying, “And I show you a still more excellent way.” In chapter 13, He explains that the more excellent way is love.

Paul expresses:

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. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.

v. 1-3 (NASB)

It says if we do not have love, it profits us nothing. The word translated as do not have is echó, which means I have, hold, possess.” The word translated as love is agapé, which means God’s kind of love: “selfless, unconditional, sacrificial.” To possess God’s love, we must receive and remain in His love. We can’t give something we don’t have. If we are not seeking Him to be filled with His love, we will have nothing to give to others.

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. We love, because He first loved us.

1 John 4:7-8, 16-19 (NASB)

Paul continues by explaining what God’s agapé love is:

Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

v. 4-7 (NASB)

God’s love should be the motivation for our service. When our works are motivated by His love these are the fruit that will be displayed in us. Only by abiding in His love can we be patient, kind, forgiving, and not boastful, proud or rude toward others.

Paul closes encouraging us to grow in God’s love.

Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part; but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.

v. 8-13 (NASB)

Even though we will only see and know God’s love in part until we stand before Him face to face, we are still encouraged to grow in His love now.

In John 21, Jesus asked Peter twice if he agapaó loved Him. Peter replied twice that he phileó loved Him, which means love of friendship, regard with affection.” The third time, Jesus met Peter where he was at in his knowledge of God’s love and asked if he phileó loved him.

So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love (agapaó) Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love (phileó) You.”

He said to him, “Tend My lambs.”

He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love (agapaó) Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love (phileó) You.”

He said to him, “Shepherd My sheep.”

He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love (phileó) Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love (phileó) Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love (phileó)  You.” Jesus said to him, “Tend My sheep.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to gird yourself and walk wherever you wished; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish to go.” Now this He said, signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, “Follow Me!”

John 21:15-19 (NASB, emphasis mine)

As Peter continued to follow Jesus, he continued to grow in God’s love. Jesus didn’t need to ask Peter again if he agapaó loved Him. Jesus knew if he remained in Him, God would fill Peter with His agapé love. Peter couldn’t have gone from denying he knew Jesus to denying himself and giving up his life without growing in God’s agapé love.

 

Heavenly Father,

We praise You for Your amazing love for us. Fill us with Your love and help us grow in the knowledge of Your love. We know that we can do nothing apart from Jesus. Help us to remain in Him and follow Him wherever He leads us. Let our life and service be the proof of Your love growing in us.

We praise You for Your love in Jesus’ name, Amen!

 

 

*This series will continue next week as we study 1 Corinthians 14.

 

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Monday’s Blog: Paul Series “1 Corinthians 12”

We continue our study of Paul’s letters this week with 1 Corinthians 12.

Paul begins talking about the different Spiritual gifts God bestows upon His children.

Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware. You know that when you were pagans, you were led astray to the mute idols, however you were led. Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus is accursed”; and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.

v. 1-11 (NASB)

God has given us different gifts by the same Spirit to accomplish His will. We have been entrusted with a special treasure that is not to be hidden, as Jesus explained in Matthew 25 with the parable of the talents:

“Again, the Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a man going on a long trip. He called together his servants and entrusted his money to them while he was gone. He gave five bags of silver to one, two bags of silver to another, and one bag of silver to the last—dividing it in proportion to their abilities. He then left on his trip.

“The servant who received the five bags of silver began to invest the money and earned five more. The servant with two bags of silver also went to work and earned two more. But the servant who received the one bag of silver dug a hole in the ground and hid the master’s money.

 “After a long time their master returned from his trip and called them to give an account of how they had used his money.

…“Then the servant with the one bag of silver came and said, ‘Master, I knew you were a harsh man, harvesting crops you didn’t plant and gathering crops you didn’t cultivate.

I was afraid I would lose your money, so I hid it in the earth. Look, here is your money back.’

…Then he ordered, ‘Take the money from this servant, and give it to the one with the ten bags of silver. To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away.

Matthew 25:14-19; 24-25; 28-29 (NLT)

God is helping me use the gifts He’s given me, but I often question if the gifts are making a difference. Do you feel the same? Do you often feel like your gifts are not really needed? Paul encourages us with the answer in the following verses:

For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.

For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot says, “Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. And if the ear says, “Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired. If they were all one member, where would the body be? But now there are many members, but one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; or again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary; and those members of the body which we deem less honorable, on these we bestow more abundant honor, and our less presentable members become much more presentable, whereas our more presentable members have no need of it. But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked, so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.

Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it.

v. 12-27 (NASB)

Every gift is needed, and every believer is valuable to the body as a whole. Those who are regarded as less honorable are given more honor to remind us that we need one another and we need to walk in unity.

Paul closes explaining the order of authority God’s set in place and encourages us to desire the greater gifts.

And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues. All are not apostles, are they? All are not prophets, are they? All are not teachers, are they? All are not workers of miracles, are they? All do not have gifts of healings, do they? All do not speak with tongues, do they? All do not interpret, do they? But earnestly desire the greater gifts.

And I show you a still more excellent way.

v. 28-31 (NASB)

The Greek word translated “gifts” is “charisma” which means: “a gift of grace, a free gift.” We are to earnestly desire God’s grace to be greater in us as a testimony to lead others to salvation. God testifies of His salvation through His grace displayed in us.

We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. For since the message spoken through angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, how shall we escape if we ignore so great a salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.

Hebrews 2:1-4 (NIV)

 

Heavenly Father,

We praise You that we are each precious and valuable to You. Every gift You’ve given us is important and needed to accomplish Your will. Help us to walk in unity by remembering that we are all part of the same body and we need one another. We pray that Your grace would be multiplied unto us through the knowledge of You and Jesus our Lord (2 Peter 1:2).

In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen!

 

 

*This series will continue next week as we study 1 Corinthians 13.


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Monday’s Blog: Paul Series “1 Corinthians 11”

We continue our study of Paul’s letters this week with 1 Corinthians 11.

Paul begins exhorting the Corinthians to imitate him as he is of Christ. He then uses an example of the customs of their time (hair length and head coverings) to clarify that they are to honor and give glory to Christ, not to him or anyone else. He corrected them for this earlier in 1 Corinthians 3 when they were arguing about who they would follow. Paul’s telling them to follow his example in following Christ.

Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.  

Now I praise you because you remember me in everything and hold firmly to the traditions, just as I delivered them to you. But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ. Every man who has something on his head while praying or prophesying disgraces his head. But every woman who has her head uncovered while praying or prophesying disgraces her head, for she is one and the same as the woman whose head is shaved. For if a woman does not cover her head, let her also have her hair cut off; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, let her cover her head. For a man ought not to have his head covered, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man. For man does not originate from woman, but woman from man; for indeed man was not created for the woman’s sake, but woman for the man’s sake. Therefore the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. However, in the Lord, neither is woman independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. For as the woman originates from the man, so also the man has his birth through the woman; and all things originate from God. Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him, but if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her? For her hair is given to her for a covering. But if one is inclined to be contentious, we have no other practice, nor have the churches of God.

v. 1-16 (NASB)

God has created a certain order of authority for the proper order of things to work. He is the head of Christ. Christ is the head of man. And man is the head of a woman. The Greek word for “man” is “anér” which means: “a male human being; a man, husband.” The Greek word for “woman” is “guné” which means: “a woman, wife, my lady.” Paul was saying that it is the husband’s job to be the head of his wife. A husband should be the spiritual leader in his home.

Paul continues:

But in giving this instruction, I do not praise you, because you come together not for the better but for the worse. For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that divisions exist among you; and in part I believe it. For there must also be factions among you, so that those who are approved may become evident among you. Therefore when you meet together, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper, for in your eating each one takes his own supper first; and one is hungry and another is drunk. What! Do you not have houses in which to eat and drink? Or do you despise the church of God and shame those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you? In this I will not praise you.

For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.

Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly. For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep. But if we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord so that we will not be condemned along with the world.

So then, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another. If anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, so that you will not come together for judgment. The remaining matters I will arrange when I come.

v. 17-33 (NASB)

With Easter coming up, we remember what Christ has done for us. The Lord’s Supper is meant to continually remind us of Christ’s sacrifice, and remind us that we have been forgiven and redeemed. Paul said that “whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord ” (v.  27 KJV).

This doesn’t mean when we feel unworthy we are not to take communion. I remember struggling with something and feel beat down. I went to church praying that it wouldn’t be the week they had communion, because I felt unworthy to receive it. When I walked into the sanctuary to sit down, I saw the bread tray out and wanted to get up and leave. As I was praying for God to forgive me and change me, my pastor said if someone is feeling unworthy to receive communion he wants them to know that God’s grace is with them.

The only ones who would be unworthy would be those who have not received Christ’s atonement for their sins. We are only worthy because Christ was worthy. Our worthiness is not based on works. When my husband and I were engaged, we spoke to a priest I had asked to marry us. The priest told me that my husband and his family would not be allowed to receive communion at our wedding because they were not part of that religion. My husband and his family received Christ’s atonement for their sins. They were saved. They should’ve been worthy to receive communion because of Christ, not because of adhering to man-made rules and religion.

In verse 29 above, “For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself,” the Greek word translated “judgment” is “krima,” which means: a judgment, a verdict; sometimes implying an adverse verdict, a condemnation.”

The Bible says that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). When the teachers of the law and Pharisees were going to stone the woman caught in adultery, Jesus said, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Then Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

 “No one, sir,” she said.

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

John 8:7-11 (NIV)

When Jesus met the Samaritan woman at the well, who was married five times and living with a man who was not her husband, Jesus told her all that she had done, not to condemn her, but to forgive her. If He had condemned her, she wouldn’t have run back to her people excited to tell them about meeting Him.

Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.”

John 4:39 (NIV)

Heavenly Father,

We praise You that we have been redeemed in Christ and made worthy because of His sacrifice. May He be honored and glorified in our lives. As we celebrate the sacrifice and redemption of Jesus this Easter, reveal Your love to those who don’t know You. Let them know that by Jesus’ stripes they have been forgiven, saved, healed and restored.

In Jesus’ holy name, we pray. Amen!

Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.

John 4:13-14 (NIV)

*This series will continue next week as we study 1 Corinthians 12. Have a blessed Easter remembering the sacrifice Jesus made to redeem you!

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Monday’s Blog: Paul Series “1 Corinthians 10”

We continue our study of Paul’s letters this week with 1 Corinthians 10. Paul begins warning the Corinthians to learn from the Israelites’ example and not make the same mistake they did when they displeased God and were overthrown in the wilderness.

Paul begins:

For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea; and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and all ate the same spiritual food; and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ. Nevertheless, with most of them God was not well-pleased; for they were laid low in the wilderness.

v. 1-5 (NASB)

We often think God is displeased with us because we make mistakes and mess up often. But that’s not true. God called King David a man after His own heart, even though he was a murderer and an adulterer. God said, “I will be a father to him and he will be a son to Me; when he commits iniquity, I will correct him with the rod of men and the strokes of the sons of men, but My lovingkindness shall not depart from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you” (2 Samuel 7:14-15, NASB).

God was pleased with David because David believed and trusted Him, and Saul did not. The Bible says, Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (Hebrews 11:6, NIV).

God was displeased with the Israelites because of their lack of faith. When they were in need they didn’t seek and trust God for provision, they complained to Moses and sought to please their own flesh.

Paul continues to explain:

Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved. Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written, “THE PEOPLE SAT DOWN TO EAT AND DRINK, AND STOOD UP TO PLAY.” Nor let us act immorally, as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in one day. Nor let us try the Lord, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the serpents. Nor grumble, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer. Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.

v. 6-11 (NASB)

They craved evil because they did not crave righteousness. To stop craving evil things, we must learn to crave what is holy. I often try to give up coffee for a week or two at a time. When I return to drinking it, I seem to crave it even more than before I gave it up. Last week, I decided to give it up once again, but this time I decided to replace it with tea. After only a week, I am now craving tea and no longer craving coffee. It’s the same with our struggle against sin. We can’t break free from it unless we turn from it and replace it with Jesus. Jesus said, “When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he saith, I will return unto my house whence I came out. And when he cometh, he findeth it swept and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh to him seven other spirits more wicked than himself; and they enter in, and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first” (Luke 11:24-26, KJV).

We have to replace the evil by being filled with Jesus. Without being filled with Jesus, we will just crave sin even more.

Paul continues:

Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall. No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.

v. 12-13 (NASB)

Paul uses the Israelite’s examples not only to teach us to put our faith in Jesus, but also to warn us to stand guard and not be overconfident that we can stand against temptation.

My pastor just shared a message about being overconfident in our faith that we think we can’t fall. He used the example of Peter and how he didn’t expect to fall and deny Christ three times.

And the Lord said, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.”

But he said to Him, “Lord, I am ready to go with You, both to prison and to death.”

Then He said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster shall not crow this day before you will deny three times that you know Me.”

Luke 22:31-34 (NKJV)

I think it’s easier to become overconfident in our faith the longer we’ve been walking with Christ. When we’ve been taught something long enough we think we’ve got it down. I started following Christ about 14 years ago. The first 9 years, God worked a lot of things out of me and did an amazing work in my marriage and my family. Five years ago, He led me to write a book about the work He has done in us. As I was recalling all that He has done for my family, I became overconfident. I thought I had arrived enough that I could let my guard down and take a break, so to speak. That was a huge mistake. I ended up falling hard, in my marriage and my family. I saw that all the years of work God had done in my family could be swept away. That scared and humbled me and sent me running to Jesus.

The Bible says to put on the full armor of God, so we can take our stand against the devil’s schemes (Ephesians 6:11). We can’t let our guard down and think Satan will not creep his way in and entice us back into sin.

Paul continues:

Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. I speak as to wise men; you judge what I say. Is not the cup of blessing which we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ? Is not the bread which we break a sharing in the body of Christ? Since there is one bread, we who are many are one body; for we all partake of the one bread. Look at the nation Israel; are not those who eat the sacrifices sharers in the altar? What do I mean then? That a thing sacrificed to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, but I say that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons and not to God; and I do not want you to become sharers in demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. Or do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? We are not stronger than He, are we?

v. 14-22 (NASB)

Again, Paul reaffirms what Jesus said in Luke 11 above, we can’t be filled with evil and be filled with God. We must turn from evil and seek what is good. “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech. They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it” (1 Peter 3:11, NIV).

Paul closes talking once again about not using our freedom for evil, but for the good of others and for bringing glory to God.

All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify. Let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbor. Eat anything that is sold in the meat market without asking questions for conscience’ sake; FOR THE EARTH IS THE LORD’S, AND ALL IT CONTAINS. If one of the unbelievers invites you and you want to go, eat anything that is set before you without asking questions for conscience’ sake. But if anyone says to you, “This is meat sacrificed to idols,” do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for conscience’ sake; I mean not your own conscience, but the other man’s; for why is my freedom judged by another’s conscience? If I partake with thankfulness, why am I slandered concerning that for which I give thanks?

Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense either to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God; just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit but the profit of the many, so that they may be saved.

v. 23-33 (NASB)

 

Heavenly Father,

We praise You that no temptation has overtaken us but such as is common to man. You are faithful. You will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we are able, but with the temptation You will always provide the way of escape to run to You. Rid us of any evil we have allowed in, and fill us with Your Holy Spirit. Help us to crave what is holy instead of craving what is evil. In Jesus’ faithful name, we pray. Amen!

 

*This series will continue next week as we study 1 Corinthians 11. Have a blessed week seeking God and craving His holiness!

 

 

 

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Monday’s Blog: Paul Series “1 Corinthians 9”

We continue our study of Paul’s letters this week with 1 Corinthians 9. In the last chapter, Paul talked about serving those who are weaker in faith by avoiding anything that would hinder them and cause them to stumble and fall into sin.  I shared Philippians 2:5-11 last week, and how we are instructed to have the same mindset as Jesus: “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.”

Paul continues chapter 9 admonishing the Corinthians to follow his example, as He followed Christ’s example, of serving one another in love.

Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are you not my work in the Lord? If to others I am not an apostle, at least I am to you; for you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.

v. 1-2 (NASB)

Just as Paul experienced, people may criticize and question whether we are called and sent out by God, but the proof will be in the fruit God produces through our labor. Jesus said, “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them” (Matthew 7:15-20, NIV).

The Corinthians’ salvation was the fruit God produced through Paul’s labor. Their salvation was proof that he was sent to them by God.

Paul proves the sincerity of his service to the Lord as he explains how he denied himself of his personal rights in order to reach people and build them up.

My defense to those who examine me is this: Do we not have a right to eat and drink? Do we not have a right to take along a believing wife, even as the rest of the apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas? Or do only Barnabas and I not have a right to refrain from working? Who at any time serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat the fruit of it? Or who tends a flock and does not use the milk of the flock?

I am not speaking these things according to human judgment, am I? Or does not the Law also say these things? For it is written in the Law of Moses, “YOU SHALL NOT MUZZLE THE OX WHILE HE IS THRESHING.” God is not concerned about oxen, is He? Or is He speaking altogether for our sake? Yes, for our sake it was written, because the plowman ought to plow in hope, and the thresher to thresh in hope of sharing the crops. If we sowed spiritual things in you, is it too much if we reap material things from you? If others share the right over you, do we not more? Nevertheless, we did not use this right, but we endure all things so that we will cause no hindrance to the gospel of Christ. Do you not know that those who perform sacred services eat the food of the temple, and those who attend regularly to the altar have their share from the altar? So also the Lord directed those who proclaim the gospel to get their living from the gospel.

But I have used none of these things. And I am not writing these things so that it will be done so in my case; for it would be better for me to die than have any man make my boast an empty one. For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for I am under compulsion; for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel. For if I do this voluntarily, I have a reward; but if against my will, I have a stewardship entrusted to me. What then is my reward? That, when I preach the gospel, I may offer the gospel without charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel.

For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more. To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law; to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some. I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it.

v. 3-23 (NASB)

I like how the Amplified Bible translates verses 16-19 above:

For if I [merely] preach the Gospel, that gives me no reason to boast, for I feel compelled of necessity to do it. Woe is me if I do not preach the glad tidings (the Gospel)!

For if I do this work of my own free will, then I have my pay (my reward); but if it is not of my own will, but is done reluctantly and under compulsion, I am [still] entrusted with a [sacred] trusteeship and commission.

 What then is the [actual] reward that I get? Just this: that in my preaching the good news (the Gospel), I may offer it [absolutely] free of expense [to anybody], not taking advantage of my rights and privileges [as a preacher] of the Gospel.

For although I am free in every way from anyone’s control, I have made myself a bond servant to everyone, so that I might gain the more [for Christ].

Paul could boast, not in his power, but in the power of Christ that compelled him to preach the gospel. He was not just going through the motions. He was not under compulsion preaching because he was told that’s what he should do. He was filled with God’s Holy Spirit. That filling compelled him and gave him an immense desire to reach others. Proof that he was not under compulsion or reluctant to preach was the fact that he was willing to give up his personal interests and rights in order to reach more people. Remember back to Romans 9, where he said he was even willing to give up his salvation to reach his own race:I speak the truth in Christ—I am not lying, my conscience confirms it through the Holy Spirit— I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people, those of my own race, the people of Israel.”

The desire and love Paul had could only come from knowing Christ and being filled with His love, as Paul explains in Philippians 3:7-14 (NIV):

But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

This is a humbling reminder that our service for the Lord should come from our relationship with Christ, not the other way around. We don’t serve Him so we can draw closer to Him. We draw closer to Him so He can fill us with His love, power, and desire to serve Him.

Paul closes the chapter exhorting the Corinthians, and us, to press on toward the goal to win the imperishable prize, worth more than anything in this world, the prize of knowing Christ and being filled with His love.

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.

v. 24-27 (NASB)

 

Heavenly Father,

We praise You for teaching us through Paul’s example the importance of a relationship with You through Christ. Fill us with Your Holy Spirit and give us the desire, power, and love to willingly and joyfully serve You in reaching others. When we are losing strength and just going through the motions, draw us away with You and refill us with Your love. Help us to throw off anything that hinders us from willingly serving You. Continually keep our hearts full of You.
In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen!

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Hebrews 12:1-3 (NIV)

*This series will continue next week as we study 1 Corinthians 10. Have a blessed week spending time with the Lord and being filled with His love!

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Monday’s Blog: Paul Series “1 Corinthians 8”

I am sorry this message is a week late. I was having trouble with my blog, website, and internet last week, as well as a few other issues. It seems when the devil attacks, he hits you from every angle. But praise God, He is greater! God worked it all out. He is faithful!

Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.

1 John 4:4 (KJV)

We continue our study of Paul’s letters with 1 Corinthians 8. Paul’s message in this chapter is similar to what he wrote in Romans 14, when he spoke to the Romans about accepting those who are weaker in faith and not putting a stumbling block or obstacle in the way of our brothers and sisters.

He begins the chapter:

Now concerning things sacrificed to idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies. If anyone supposes that he knows anything, he has not yet known as he ought to know; but if anyone loves God, he is known by Him.

v. 1-3 (NASB)

I love how Paul starts off by saying that knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies. When the disciples asked why Jesus spoke to people in parables, He replied “Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them” (Matthew 13:10-11, NIV).

Through faith in Jesus, we have been given access to the knowledge of God. As we grow in our walk with Him, we grow in knowledge. A mature believer may have more knowledge than a new believer, but having more knowledge does not make them superior. Jesus had more knowledge than anyone. Yet there was no pride or arrogance in Him, because He loved others. He humbled himself to lift others up.

Philippians 2:5-11 instructs us:

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Having knowledge is not enough. The Bible says, If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:2, NIV). We must be filled with God’s love to use the knowledge He’s given us for good, not evil.

I am dealing with a situation with someone right now where I have knowledge because I’ve been through it before.  The other person is experiencing it for the first time. God’s had to remind me to humble myself and think about the person as if I were in their shoes, walking through it with them for the first time.

We may have more knowledge in an area than someone else, but we must be careful not to let that knowledge puff us up. We must humbly follow Jesus’ example by using the knowledge God’s given us to build others up, rather than tear them down.

Paul finishes the chapter:

Therefore concerning the eating of things sacrificed to idols, we know that there is no such thing as an idol in the world, and that there is no God but one. For even if there are so-called gods whether in heaven or on earth, as indeed there are many gods and many lords, yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him.

However not all men have this knowledge; but some, being accustomed to the idol until now, eat food as if it were sacrificed to an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled. But food will not commend us to God; we are neither the worse if we do not eat, nor the better if we do eat. But take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. For if someone sees you, who have knowledge, dining in an idol’s temple, will not his conscience, if he is weak, be strengthened to eat things sacrificed to idols? For through your knowledge he who is weak is ruined, the brother for whose sake Christ died. And so, by sinning against the brethren and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food causes my brother to stumble, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause my brother to stumble.

v. 4-13 (NASB)

If our freedom and knowledge causes others to stumble and fall into sin, we are sinning. Though Paul was addressing the traditions of that time, regarding meat and eating food sacrificed to idols, we can still learn from it and apply it today.

As an example, a former alcoholic turns to Christ. He’s been delivered from the addiction. He vows not to touch alcohol again, because he knows how destructive it is and how easily he can fall back into that temptation. He’s invited over his Christian friend’s house one day, along with a couple of other Christian friends who bring beer. These guys have never had an addiction to alcohol. They don’t drink to get drunk. They never abuse it. They just enjoy a glass once in a while. The guy who has strong convictions against alcohol is tempted and weakened after fellowshipping with his friends.

Therefore, if [my eating a] food is a cause of my brother’s falling or of hindering [his spiritual advancement], I will not eat [such] flesh forever, lest I cause my brother to be tripped up and fall and to be offended.

v:13 (AMP)

In other words, if we are doing something that causes us or someone else to stumble, we should avoid it.

Heavenly Father,

We praise You for giving us knowledge through faith in Christ. As we grow in knowledge, keep us humble so we don’t become arrogant. Fill us with Your love and give us wisdom to use that knowledge for good, not evil. Show us anything that we are doing that is causing others or ourselves to stumble and fall into sin. Help us to lay it down and humbly follow You. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.

Proverbs 2:6 (KJV)

 

*This series will continue next week as we study 1 Corinthians 9. Have a blessed week growing in God’s knowledge and love!

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Monday’s Blog: Paul Series “1 Corinthians 7”

We continue our study of Paul’s letters this week with 1 Corinthians 7. Last week, in 1 Corinthians 6, Paul talked about sexual immorality in the church. In this chapter, he teaches how to avoid sexual immorality in and before marriage.

  • Concerning the married, Paul writes:

Now for the matters you wrote about: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” But since sexual immorality is occurring, each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband. The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife. Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. I say this as a concession, not as a command. I wish that all of you were as I am. But each of you has your own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that.

v. 1-7 (NIV)

Pastor and author, Warren Baldwin, once wrote: “Before we are married, the devil does everything he can to get us to have sex. After we are married, the devil does everything he can to keep us from having sex (with our spouse). Sex can be one of God’s greatest blessings to us, or one of the greatest curses, depending on whether or not we follow his will.”

We are to direct all our sexual desires to our spouses and not withhold them, giving Satan an opportunity to tempt us to share that intimacy with someone else. Proverbs 5:15-20 instructs us to “Drink water from your own cistern And fresh water from your own well. Should your springs be dispersed abroad, Streams of water in the streets? Let them be yours alone And not for strangers with you. Let your fountain be blessed, And rejoice in the wife of your youth. As a loving hind and a graceful doe, Let her breasts satisfy you at all times; Be exhilarated always with her love. For why should you, my son, be exhilarated with an adulteress And embrace the bosom of a foreigner? (NASB)

Paul continues instructing the married not to seek divorce:

To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband. But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife.

To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.

But if the unbeliever leaves, let it be so. The brother or the sister is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace. How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or, how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?

…A woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but he must belong to the Lord. In my judgment, she is happier if she stays as she is—and I think that I too have the Spirit of God.

v. 10-16, 39-40 (NIV)

Marriage is tough, especially if you and your spouse are not on the same page spiritually. That’s why in Paul’s judgment we are happier if we remain single. We can give all our time and attention to serving the Lord when we don’t have a spouse to be concerned with. That doesn’t mean we should seek divorce if we are married. Once we made that commitment before God, we are to honor it. If our spouses are unbelievers, or not following the Lord as they should, God will give us grace to stay and serve Him, even if serving Him causes them to flee.

  • Concerning the unmarried and widows, Paul writes:

Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do. But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

Now about virgins: I have no command from the Lord, but I give a judgment as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy. Because of the present crisis, I think that it is good for a man to remain as he is. Are you pledged to a woman? Do not seek to be released. Are you free from such a commitment? Do not look for a wife. But if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. But those who marry will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you this.

What I mean, brothers and sisters, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they do not; those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away.

I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife—and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband. I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord.

v. 8-9, 25-35 (NIV)

The time is short. All that we are concerned with in this life will not matter when Jesus returns. Many single Christians fall into sexual immorality by focusing on seeking a spouse. In their pursuit to find the right one, they often get involved in the wrong relationships. If their pursuit takes longer than they’d like, they often compromise their values and marry someone that isn’t God’s will for them. God’s way out of temptation is to stop seeking a spouse and start seeking Him with all their heart, mind, soul and strength. When their heart is in Him, He will bring the right one at the right time, unless they desire to remain single to serve the Lord as Paul did.

  • Concerning the engaged to be married, Paul writes:

If anyone is worried that he might not be acting honorably toward the virgin he is engaged to, and if his passions are too strong and he feels he ought to marry, he should do as he wants. He is not sinning. They should get married. But the man who has settled the matter in his own mind, who is under no compulsion but has control over his own will, and who has made up his mind not to marry the virgin—this man also does the right thing. So then, he who marries the virgin does right, but he who does not marry her does better.

v. 36-38 (NIV)

Again, Paul is saying that it is better to marry than to burn with lust. I know Christians who will not be alone with their spouses so they will not be tempted to have relations before marriage. I once advised an engaged couple living together to either move out or get married. If their passions were so strong that they couldn’t resist giving into that temptation, then they should get married right away.

Lastly, Paul instructs that we should be content and obey God in whatever situation He has called us, whether single or married.

Nevertheless, each person should live as a believer in whatever situation the Lord has assigned to them, just as God has called them. This is the rule I lay down in all the churches. Was a man already circumcised when he was called? He should not become uncircumcised. Was a man uncircumcised when he was called? He should not be circumcised. Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing. Keeping God’s commands is what counts. Each person should remain in the situation they were in when God called them.

Were you a slave when you were called? Don’t let it trouble you—although if you can gain your freedom, do so. For the one who was a slave when called to faith in the Lord is the Lord’s freed person; similarly, the one who was free when called is Christ’s slave. You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of human beings. Brothers and sisters, each person, as responsible to God, should remain in the situation they were in when God called them.

17-24 (NIV)

 

Heavenly Father,

We praise You for these letters from Paul in Your Word. For those of us who are married, help us to be content with our spouses and not seek to be free from marriage. Help us to honor the commitment we made before You. For those who are single, help them to turn away from temptation and be content waiting on You to bring them the right spouse You have chosen for them. For those who are engaged, help them to enjoy this time with You before marriage, and help them resist the temptation to give that special gift You’ve saved only for marriage. For those who desire to remain unmarried, help them to be fully devoted to You, in body and spirit. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.  

*This series will continue next week as we study 1 Corinthians 8. Have a blessed week being content in the Lord!


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