*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 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 6”

We continue our study of Paul’s letters this week with 1 Corinthians 6. Last week, in chapter 5, Paul talked about a case of incest in the church and how God gave them authority to judge the one caught in sin.

For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? But those who are outside, God judges.

1 Corinthians 5:12-13

In chapter 6, Paul continues addressing problems that were not being dealt with and judged by the church. Instead they were taking their cases against one another to the world’s court to be judged by them. They trusted the authority and judgment of unbelievers over believers.

Does any one of you, when he has a case against his neighbor, dare to go to law before the unrighteous and not before the saints? Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? If the world is judged by you, are you not competent to constitute the smallest law courts? Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more matters of this life? So if you have law courts dealing with matters of this life, do you appoint them as judges who are of no account in the church? I say this to your shame. Is it so, that there is not among you one wise man who will be able to decide between his brethren, but brother goes to law with brother, and that before unbelievers?

Actually, then, it is already a defeat for you, that you have lawsuits with one another. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be defrauded? On the contrary, you yourselves wrong and defraud. You do this even to your brethren.

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.

v. 1-11 (NASB)

Paul points out the fruit of the unrighteous (those who do not believe in the Lord Jesus) and reminds the church that they have been sanctified in Christ. He’s exhorting them to lay aside their old unrighteous ways and put on their new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (Ephesians 4:24).

He continues:

All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything.  Food is for the stomach and the stomach is for food, but God will do away with both of them. Yet the body is not for immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord is for the body. Now God has not only raised the Lord, but will also raise us up through His power.

v. 12-14 (NASB)

Paul said that all things were lawful for him because he was not under the law. However, he knew the deception and power of sin and would not allow himself to be a slave to it, as he explained in Romans 6:11-14, “In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace” (NIV).

Paul closes exhorting the Corinthians not to offer their bodies to sin, but to Christ as a living sacrifice to God.

Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take away the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? May it never be! Or do you not know that the one who joins himself to a prostitute is one body with her? For He says, “THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH.” But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him. Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.

v. 15-20 (NASB)

The Greek word translated above as “immorality” is “porneia,” which means fornication. We are instructed to flee from sexual sin, because it is not something that we can stand up against and resist. Ask any brother or sister who has fallen into sexual sin and they will tell you they never intended to give into the temptation. The amplified Bible says to flee from impurity in thought, word, or deed. They fell into it because they didn’t flee from it. They didn’t flee when the lustful thoughts began (thought). They didn’t flee when the flirting began (word). And they didn’t flee from the act (deed), because by that time the temptation was so strong they didn’t want to flee.

God always provide a way out to flee from temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13). In sexual sin, He gives us plenty of warnings and chances to flee from it, because He knows how damaging it is to us. Of course, when we do fall and turn to God for help, He can lift us out of any sin and heal and restore us back to holiness.

“but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”

James 1:14-15 (NIV)

Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand.

Psalm 37:24 (KJV)

 

Heavenly Father,

Praise You that with every temptation You always provide a way out. Help us to take Your way out and flee from sexual immorality in thought, word, and deed. Help us to lay aside deeds of unrighteousness and put on our new selves, created to be like You in righteousness and holiness. We praise You in Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

*This series will continue next week as we study 1 Corinthians 7. Have a blessed week walking with the Lord, taking His way out of temptation.

 

 

 

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Monday’s Blog: Paul Series (recap Romans)

Since going through Paul’s letters one chapter at a time (once a week) will take over a year to complete, I’ve decided to take a week in between letters to pray and allow God to recap what He’s taught me so far. We  finished Romans last week. Next week, we will move onto First Corinthians.
Here’s a list and the links of the chapters we’ve studied so far in Romans:

Romans 1  – benefits of faith and consequences from unbelief

Romans 2 –  justified through Christ

Romans 3 – faithfulness of God

Romans 4 – receiving God’s promises

Romans 5 – benefits of being justified by faith

Romans 6 – dead to sin and alive to God

Romans 7  – released from the law and bound to Christ

Romans 8 – setting our minds on the Spirit

Romans 9 – children of the promise

Romans 10 – believing and confessing Jesus as Lord

Romans 11 – remnant chosen by Grace

Romans 12 – living a life surrendered to Christ

Romans 13 – lay aside deeds of darkness and put on the armor of Light

Romans 14 – accept those weak in faith and do not judge one another

Romans 15 – be filled with the Holy Spirit and build others up

Romans 16 – faithful servants of Christ

Heavenly Father,

We praise You for these teachings from Paul. We pray that as we study his letters You would fill us with Your love and give us revelation to know You better and to understand Your will for our lives. You have all the wisdom, knowledge and understanding. We know nothing apart from you. We humble ourselves before You and receive all that You want to reveal to us.

In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

 

*We will be studying 1 Corinthians 1 next week. Have a blessed week in the Lord!

 


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Monday’s Blog: Paul Series “Romans 9”

We continue our study of Paul’s letters in Romans to Philemon. This week, we are reading and studying Romans 9.

Paul opens the chapter by expressing his sincere love and concern for his people, Israel, because they did not believe Jesus.

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. Theirs is the adoption to sonship; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of the Messiah, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen.

v. 1-5 (NASB)

That’s a powerful statement Paul made. He truly had the love of Christ in him to say he’d take Israel’s place and be cut off from Christ if it would save them. That’s humbling to me. I have to look at my own heart. Is my heart really filled with the love of Christ that I would desire to give up my salvation to save others?

So how do we sincerely love like Christ? What hinders our hearts from being filled with the fullness of His love?  First Timothy 1:5 provides us with the answer:

“Whereas the object and purpose of our instruction and charge is love (agape), which springs from a pure heart and a good (clear) conscience and sincere (unfeigned) faith.”

(AMP, emphasis mine)

We are called to agape love. Agape love is God’s unconditional love. Romans 5:5 says that the love(agape) of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. That agape love that God has poured into our hearts can only spring out from us when our hearts are pure, our consciences are clear, and our faith is in Him.

We are often misled to believe that to love  is to do good deeds. But Paul said, 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 Cor. 13:3). True agape love only comes through faith, completely believing and surrendering to God and His Word. Faith must come first. Faith will then lead us to action and produce the good works (James 2:18). When our complete faith is in Christ, He purifies our hearts and cleanses our consciences so that His love can flow freely through us.

…how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

Hebrews 9:14 (NASB)

In the rest of chapter 9, Paul explains how Israel tried to pursue righteousness through works, instead of by faith.

What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, attained righteousness, even the righteousness which is by faith; but Israel, pursuing a law of righteousness, did not arrive at that law. Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as though it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone, just as it is written, “BEHOLD, I LAY IN ZION A STONE OF STUMBLING AND A ROCK OF OFFENSE, AND HE WHO BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.”

v. 30-33 (NASB)

They were God’s chosen people, yet they rejected the One God sent to save them, Jesus. Paul expresses,  “But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel; nor are they all children because they are Abraham’s descendants, but: “through Isaac your descendants will be named.” That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendants” (v. 6-8, NASB).

The promise He made to Abraham and his descendants were not made to his physical descendants, but to his spiritual seed, those who would put their faith in Christ. It all comes down to faith. It doesn’t matter who we are, or what we do, if our faith is not in Him we cannot be filled with His love.

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

Hebrews 11:6 (KJV)

Heavenly Father,

We praise You for Your agape love displayed through Jesus Christ, Your Son. Fill our hearts with Christ’s love. Cleanse our hearts of any unbelief and help us completely surrender our hearts to You. Purify our hearts from evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies, for these are the things which defile us (Matthew 15:19-20, KJV). Remove everything that is hindering Your love from springing out from our hearts.   

In Jesus’ faithful name, we pray. Amen!

 

Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity.  Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

Psalm 51:9-12 (NIV)

 

How did God speak to you through Romans 9? Is there anything He revealed that you would like to share with others? 

 

*This series will continue next Monday as we study Romans 10. Have a blessed week allowing God to purify your heart!


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Monday’s Blog: Paul Series “Romans 7”

We continue our study of Paul’s letters in Romans to Philemon. In Romans 6 last week, Paul instructed us to consider ourselves dead to sin and alive to God. In Romans 7, Paul continues to explain how we are released from the law and bound to Christ:

Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God.

For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death. But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter.

v. 4-6 (NASB)

Paul explains that even though the law aroused sin in us, the law was not bad. It was given for our good.

What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? May it never be! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind; for apart from the Law sin is dead. I was once alive apart from the Law; but when the commandment came, sin became alive and I died; and this commandment, which was to result in life, proved to result in death for me; for sin, taking an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. So then, the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.

v. 7-12 (NASB)

As Paul explains above, if apart from the law sin is dead, why did God make the law? If we were once alive apart from it, why did we ever need it?

Paul explains the answer in the following verse:

Therefore did that which is good become a cause of death for me? May it never be! Rather it was sin, in order that it might be shown to be sin by effecting my death through that which is good, so that through the commandment sin would become utterly sinful.

v. 13 (NASB)

I believe the purpose of the law was to show us our need for God. The purpose was to reveal how evil sin is so we would choose to follow God to life instead of the devil to death. Before I knew Christ I didn’t see a need for God. I didn’t see or understand the effects of sin. I didn’t know I had an enemy who was deceiving me trying to lead me to his fate. Once God got hold of my heart, and I started reading His Word, my spiritual eyes opened to see sin for what it is. Gaining knowledge of sin drew me closer to God. The knowledge of sin changed my desires to detest evil and cling to what is good (Romans 12:9).

If we detest sin, and no longer desire it, why do we still sin?

Paul ends the chapter explaining why we sin even though we no longer desire it:

For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate.

But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good. So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not.  For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want.  But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.

I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members.

Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.

v. 14-25 (NASB)

Paul understood his deep need for Christ. He knew that nothing good was in him. His sinful flesh was a reminder of how helpless he’d be without Christ. Instead of allowing his flesh to have dominion over him, and being depressed by his sin, he rejoiced that Christ set him free.

As Paul explained above, the battle is against our minds. The Bible says to cast down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5, KJV).

We can’t turn from sin by just setting our minds not to sin. Believe me I’ve tried, and it doesn’t work. We turn from sin, and win the battle Satan wages against our minds, by rejoicing that Christ has set us free from sin. I didn’t understand this when I first started following Christ. I wanted to change and not have sin rule over me, but the more I tried to do good, the worse I became. As I was sitting in a parking lot one day, worn down and depressed that I was not changing, I cried out to God for revelation. A minister was on the radio that moment explaining how we can’t change ourselves. God showed me that instead of putting my faith in Him, and relying on His Spirit to change me, I was relying on my flesh to change me, which was impossible.

You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. But by faith we eagerly await through the Spirit the righteousness for which we hope.

Galatians 5:4-5 (NIV)

The law shows us how sinful our flesh is, so we can turn to His Spirit to free us from our flesh and transform us. The devil attacks our minds to keep us depressed in our sin and take our attention away from God and the work He wants to do through His Spirit in us. We must remember this whenever we are reminded of our sinful flesh. We can take those depressing thoughts captive and rejoice that He who the Son has set free is free indeed (John 8:36).

Heavenly Father,

We praise You for making a law and revealing how evil sin is so we would see our deep need for You. Fill us with joy in Your Holy Spirit that we have been set free. Sin no longer has a hold over us. When the devil reminds us of our sin, remind us to take captive those thoughts and rejoice that Your Spirit is doing a wonderful work in us. We rejoice in Christ that we are truly free.

In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen!

 

How did God speak to you through Romans 7? Is there anything He revealed that you would like to share with others? 

 

*Come back next Monday as we study Romans 8. Have a blessed week rejoicing that you are free in Christ!

 

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Monday’s Blog: Paul Series “Romans 3”

We continue our study of Paul’s letters in Romans to Philemon. Last week, we studied Romans 2. This week we move on to Romans 3.

The chapter starts off with talking about how the Jews were first entrusted with the teachings of God. And though some did not believe God, it did not nullify His faithfulness to His Word.

The Apostle Paul explains:

“What then? If some did not believe, their unbelief will not nullify the faithfulness of God, will it? May it never be! Rather, let God be found true, though every man be found a liar, as it is written,

That You may be justified in Your words,
And prevail when You are judged.’

Romans 3:3-4, NASB

God’s Word will stand as complete truth regardless whether we believe Him or not.

Jesus said:

“Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.”

Matthew 24:35

Even though our unbelief cannot hinder God’s faithfulness to His Word, it can hinder His Word from having an effect in our lives. Jesus told the Pharisees and teachers of the law:

You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions! For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and mother,’ and, ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’ But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is Corban (that is, devoted to God)— then you no longer let them do anything for their father or mother. Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that.”

Mark 7:9-13, NIV

Many people question God’s faithfulness today. There are many things written in His Word that people try to refute on the sole basis that they haven’t experienced or seen it happen.

Why is God’s Word alive and active in some people’s lives and not others? Why are some experiencing God’s promises while others are not?  Is God faithful to some and not to others?

Jesus said:

“Did I not say to you that IF you believe, you WILL see the glory of God?”

John 11:40, NASB (emphasis mine)

God is faithful to His Word. As we learned last week in Romans 2, God shows no partiality. He will do for each of us exactly what He says He will do.

The remainder of Romans 3 talks about how though the Jews were the first to be entrusted with the teachings of God, they were not better than others. They were just as guilty of sin as everyone else.

What then? Are we better than they? Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin;  as it is written,

There is none righteous, not even one;
There is none who understands,
There is none who seeks for God;
All have turned aside, together they have become useless;
There is none who does good,
There is not even one.”
“Their throat is an open grave,
With their tongues they keep deceiving,”
“The poison of asps is under their lips”;
“Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness”;
“Their feet are swift to shed blood,
Destruction and misery are in their paths,
And the path of peace they have not known.”
“There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

Romans 3:9-18, NASB

The chapter stresses once again that the only way to be justified before God is by faith (Greek Word:“pistis” Definition: faith, belief, trust, confidence; fidelity, faithfulness).

To summarize what I learned in Romans 3: God is faithful to His Word. When we put our trust in Him, and are confident in His faithfulness, His Word will have a powerful effect in our lives.

Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed what they had done. A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly. When they calculated the value of the scrolls, the total came to fifty thousand drachmas.In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power.

Acts 19:18-20, NIV

 

Heavenly Father,

We praise You that You are faithful.  We can trust that Your Word which goes forth from Your mouth will not return to You empty, without accomplishing what You desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which You sent it (Isaiah 55:11). We put our faith in You, and not in what others say or what we see happening around us. We praise You that faith comes by hearing Your Word and that Word is alive and actively working in us.

In Jesus’ faithful name, we pray. Amen!

 

How did God speak to you through Romans 3? Is there anything He revealed that you would like to share with others? 

 

*Come back next Monday as we talk about what we learned in Romans 4. Use the share tabs below to invite others to join us in this study of Romans to Philemon. You can also subscribe below to receive email reminders of new posts. Have a blessed week trusting God that He is faithful to His Word!


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Monday’s Blog: Paul Series “Romans 1”

I am starting a new series today. I invite you to join me in studying Paul’s letters in Romans to Philemon. This series will run every Monday. We will study one chapter a week. If you would like to follow along with this series, read the chapter listed for the week and then share whatever God taught you through that chapter in the comment section below. We can minister to one another, as God may teach each of us something different through the chapters.

This week, we start out by reading Romans chapter 1.

The first half of the chapter talks about the benefits of faith and how the gospel of Christ is exalted through faith.

In verses 1-17, I learned that:

  • Faith is obedience (v. 5).

 We often think we have to do everything right to be obedient. But the Bible says, “know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ (Galatians 2:16).

  • Faith is noticeable and spreads to others (v. 8).

When we believe God is who He says He is, and believe He will do what He says He will do, His power is unleashed in us: his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come” (Ephesians 1:19-21).

  • Faith builds and encourages us, and those around us (v. 12).

When I am in faith I am filled with God’s Holy Spirit and lifted up. “But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit” (Jude 1:20). When I start to lose hope, and God leads me to someone in the faith who is filled with the Holy Spirit, they encourage me and build up my faith. “Barnabas was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and strong in faith. And many people were brought to the Lord” (Acts 11:24).

  • Faith leads to righteous living (v. 17).

James 2:18-19 says, “Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.” Faith does not just believe God exists. Faith trusts God as Lord of our lives. When we submit our lives over to God He fills us with His righteousness and our actions begin to change.

 

The second half of Romans 1 talks about the consequences of unbelief, and how it hinders the gospel and leads to unrighteous living.

In verses 18-32, I learned that:

  • Unbelief suppresses the truth God has placed within us (v. 18).

God has clearly made Himself known to all of us. There is no excuse for us not to believe Him (v. 19-20).

  • Unbelief darkens our hearts (v. 21).

Even though we know God, we don’t acknowledge and worship Him as Lord and our Creator. Instead we acknowledge and worship the things that have been created. When we start to worship things of this world over God, our hearts begin to harden to the truth and we become blinded by Satan’s deception. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Corinthians 4:4).

  • Unbelief does not please God (v. 28).

When we deny God, He gives us over to our depraved mind (v. 28). The Bible says, “The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God” (Romans 8:6-8).

  • Unbelief separates us from God and His righteous, and leaves us in our unrighteousness (v. 29-32). 

We need God’s righteousness to do what is right. When we reject Him we are “filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; [they are] gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.” (Romans 1:29-32, NASB)

 

So to summarize Romans 1, when we put our faith in Christ, the power of God is released in us and displayed through us. When we persist in unbelief, we hinder His power to change us and impact the world for Christ.

Heavenly Father,

We praise You for this study of Paul’s letters. Thank you for teaching us in Romans 1 about faith and unbelief. Help us to continually put our faith in You and make You Lord of our lives. Fill us with Your righteousness so that we are empowered to do what is right. In Jesus’ faithful name we pray, Amen! 

 

How did God speak to you through Romans 1? Is there anything He revealed to you that you would like to share with others? 

 

*Come back next Monday as we talk about what we learned in Romans 2. Use the share tabs below to invite others to join us in this study of Romans to Philemon. You can also subscribe below to receive email reminders of new posts. Have a blessed week walking in faith!

 

 

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