Monday’s Blog: Paul Series “1 Corinthians 3″

We continue our study of Paul’s letters this week with 1 Corinthians 3. In the last two chapters, Paul explains how the wisdom of the world is foolish. At the end of 1 Corinthians 2, he says that the natural (carnal, fleshly, worldly) man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned (1 Corinthians 1:14). This week, Paul explains that if we are walking in the flesh, instead of the spirit, we will not be able to understand and receive the things of the spirit.

And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ. I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able, for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men? For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not mere men?

v. 1-4 (NASB)

The Bible tells us to walk by the Spirit, and we will not gratify the desires of the flesh (Galatians 5:16).  An infant believer’s mind is set on the desires of their flesh. A mature believer’s mind is set on the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace” (Romans 8:6). I read a wonderful short commentary on what it means to be an infant in Christ. It shows the importance of renewing our minds to be mature followers of Christ. You can follow this link to read this encouraging commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:1 by Andrew Wommack.

Paul continues:

What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one. I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth. Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.

v. 5-9 (NASB)

It is okay to thank and acknowledge those who minister to us. But we must remember that it is God who causes the seed they plant or water to grow. We are nothing without God. There were times when God used me to meet a need, and the recipient saw me as the author of the blessing, rather than God.  That’s why I prefer to give in secret, as Jesus talked about in Matthew 6:2-4, so the recipient can give the glory to God instead of me.

Paul continues:

According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it. For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are.

v. 10-17 (NASB)

Paul was giving strict warning against wrong teachings. He was warning those who were building up the church to watch the motives of their hearts. Our motives won’t be pure if our hearts are not pure. Jesus rebuked the Pharisees and some of the teachers of law for their defiled hearts in Mark 7:

“‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.’

You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.”

And he continued, “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions!

 “Listen to me, everyone, and understand this. Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them.”

What comes out of a person is what defiles them. For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person.”

Mark 7:8-9, 14-16, 20-23 (NIV)

If we allow our hearts to be hardened by continually feeding our carnal appetites, rather than following the Spirit, we will destroy the temple that God desires to glorify Himself in.

Paul closes the chapter reminding us once again not to depend on the world’s wisdom by walking in the flesh, but to rely on God’s wisdom by walking in the Spirit:

Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you thinks that he is wise in this age, he must become foolish, so that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God. For it is written, “He is THE ONE WHO CATCHES THE WISE IN THEIR CRAFTINESS”; and again, “THE LORD KNOWS THE REASONINGS of the wise, THAT THEY ARE USELESS.” So then let no one boast in men. For all things belong to you, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or things present or things to come; all things belong to you, and you belong to Christ; and Christ belongs to God.

v. 18-23 (NASB)

Heavenly Father,

We praise You for residing in us. Remove everything that we have allowed in to defile and harden our hearts. Continually keep our hearts and minds pure so that nothing hinders You from glorifying Yourself in us. We praise You that we have this wonderful treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from You and not from us (2 Cor. 4:7).

In Jesus’ name, we praise You. Amen!

*This series will continue next week as we study 1 Corinthians 4. Have a blessed week walking in the Holy Spirit!

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Monday’s Blog: Paul Series “Romans 4”

We continue our study of Paul’s letters in Romans to Philemon. Follow this link to read any previous messages in this series. This week we are studying Romans 4.

As in the previous chapters, Paul talks about how we are justified before God and made righteous by faith, not by works of the law.  Paul explains how Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness.

How then was it credited? While he was circumcised, or uncircumcised? Not while circumcised, but while uncircumcised; and he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while uncircumcised, so that he might be the father of all who believe without being circumcised, that righteousness might be credited to them, and the father of circumcision to those who not only are of the circumcision, but who also follow in the steps of the faith of our father Abraham which he had while uncircumcised.

v. 10-12 (NASB)

Abraham set an example for us to follow in his footsteps as he, against all hope, believed God was faithful to deliver what He promised him. Because he stood firm in faith, Abraham received what God promised and he became “a father of many nations” (v. 17).

Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.

v. 19-21 (NIV)

We can learn by Abraham’s example how to receive what God has promised us in His Word. First, we learn that Abraham didn’t deny the fact that he and Sarah were well past child bearing age. Walking in faith doesn’t mean we ignore the facts. Walking in faith means we trust that God can change the facts. 

…God, who gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist.

v. 17 (NASB)

Second, we learn that Abraham didn’t allow himself to waver in unbelief. The Bible says, But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do” (James 1:6-8, NIV). Abraham was spiritually minded. He refused to entertain carnal thoughts of doubt.

Third, we learn that Abraham’s faith grew as he did not allow himself to doubt God. He was fully convinced that God had the power to do what He promised. To receive God’s promises we must be fully convinced in our minds that He will certainly deliver.

I once needed healing in an area. I read God’s promises on healing and believed it was His will for me to be healed, but I didn’t see any change.  One evening, when I was starting to lose hope, I cried out to Jesus and told Him if He was here on earth today I would come to Him and He would touch me and I would be healed. I told Him that His Word says He’s the same yesterday, today and forevermore. I cried out for Him to reach down and touch me so I would be healed. Later that night, I awoke from my sleep and noticed my husband was awake. My husband, not knowing what I prayed for, said that while I was asleep God spoke to him to tell me I was healed. Receiving that confirmation took away any doubt and convinced me in my mind that it was already given to me. Because God spoke that promise to me I was able to stand firm in faith and receive what He promised.

It’s not that we don’t have the faith to receive from God. The Bible says that God’s already given us a measure of faith (Romans 12:3). And all it takes is the faith of a tiny mustard seed to move mountains and do the impossible (Matthew 17:20). It’s that our minds need to be renewed and convinced of His will in order to see it come to pass in our lives.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Romans 12:2 (NIV)

 

Heavenly Father,

We praise You that no matter how many promises You have made, they are “Yes” in Christ (2 Corinthians 1:20).  We want to receive all that You have for us. Help us to renew our minds in Your Word and cast down any doubt, so that we can be fully convinced that You have the power to deliver what You have promised us.

In Jesus’ faithful name, we pray. Amen!

 

How did God speak to you through Romans 4? Is there anything He revealed that you would like to share with others? 

 

*Come back next Monday as we study Romans 5. 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 renewing your mind in God’s Word!

 

 

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Monday’s Blog: Renewing Our Minds

I am starting a new series next week on Paul’s letters (from Romans – Philemon). In my Bible, I probably read Paul’s letters the most because they are filled with teachings on how to follow Christ’s example by living a godly life.  This week, I want to share a message I posted last September from a series I did on training ourselves to be godly, titled “Pursuing Godliness.” In this message, I shared how Paul exhorted the Corinthians to follow his example as he followed the example of Christ (1 Cor. 11:1). This message was one of the most helpful posts God has ever given me to share. It teaches the importance of renewing our minds so we can follow Christ’s example and live a godly life.

 Renewing Our Minds

The Apostle Paul exhorted, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1).

How do we follow Christ’s example? How do we train ourselves to be godly?

The answer is in Romans 12:1-2:

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

We are transformed by the renewing of our minds. The Greek word for renewal in the above verse means “renovation.” When you renovate something, you restore it to a better state. The Bible says if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old is gone and the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Ephesians 4:22-24 instructs us:

“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”

The only way to put off our old self (ungodliness), and put on our new self (godliness), is to renew our minds. Last summer, I reorganized my entire house. While going through my house, I was amazed how many notes I found with teachings and Scriptures I wrote down through the years. I had stacks of notebooks, piles of Bible study workbooks, and a number of odd items such as napkin pieces with Scriptures written on them. When I first started walking with God I was desperate for change. I was hungry for His holiness. I pursued godliness by taking every opportunity I had to feed and meditate on His Word.

Through the years, God has done an amazing work in my life. At times I take it for granted. Looking through those piles reminded me that I can never stop pursuing godliness. If I don’t diligently stay connected to God and seek His Word, I will easily fall back into my old pattern of behavior.

So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!

1 Corinthians 10:12

I did a study once on renovating my mind, using Nehemiah 1-6 and rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. My intention was to strip off my old carnal mind and replace it with the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16).

Just as Nehemiah inspected Jerusalem’s walls (Nehemiah 2:11-13), I began the study with inspecting my thoughts. I identified and made a list of every carnal thought I had. I was astonished how many negative thoughts I had even though I had been following Christ for many years. In my journal for the study I wrote: “My mind is like that broken down wall (Nehemiah 2:13). It lies in ruins (Nehemiah 2:17).”

After identifying the carnal thoughts, I got to work tearing them down and rebuilding my mind with God’s Word (Nehemiah 2:18). Each day I focused on a different negative thought from my list. I wrote down every verse I found pertaining to that thought, and prayed and meditated on them.

Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; Meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it.

Joshua 1:8

The tearing down and rebuilding wasn’t easy. I did the study for about fifty days, close to the amount it took them to rebuild Jerusalem’s walls (Nehemiah 6:15). It took me fourteen days to go through my list. Then on day fifteen, I had to re-examine my thoughts to see where I still needed help. After the first re-examination, the list was about a third of what it was when I started the renovation. The last few carnal thoughts were strongholds. Those took longer to tear down.

I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out your precepts.

Psalm 119:45

I gathered a few notes I wrote in my journal during those fifty days. They reveal some of the attacks and ups and downs we can experience as we seek to renew our minds with God’s Word.

Rebuilding the Walls of My Mind Journal

Day 2: I have been having a lot of bad dreams, revealing the strongholds I have in my mind. Last night, I dreamt an evil woman was chasing me while I was trying to protect a child. I got tired of running and turned around and commanded her to stop in the name of Jesus. She stopped instantly and changed as the demon left her. A great reminder to stop running from the devil. Make him flee.

Day 3: I’m being attacked big time. I’m sick. I’ve had bad dreams and I’m having negative thoughts like crazy.

Day 4: The enemy is angry and greatly incensed that I am renovating my mind (Nehemiah 4:1-7).

When Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, he became angry and was greatly incensed. He ridiculed the Jews …What are those feeble Jews doing? Will they restore their wall? Will they offer sacrifices? Will they finish in a day? Can they bring the stones back to life from those heaps of rubble—burned as they are?’” (Nehemiah4: 1-2)

Day 7: I acted so badly yesterday. I am ashamed. I was rude to the lady at our church. This isn’t me. I can’t believe all the junk in me. Help me Lord! Cleanse my mind and rebuild it with pure thoughts so my actions will follow.

“The work is extensive and spread out, and we are widely separated from each other along the wall. Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, join us there. Our God will fight for us!” (Nehemiah 4:19-20)

Day 9: Things are looking brighter today. I feel my joy returning and my outlook expanding.

Day 14: I feel my mind getting better. The power of the strongholds seems to be weakening and it’s not taking as much effort on my part. God is healing my mind.  

“When word came to …  our enemies that I had rebuilt the wall and not a gap was left in it…. They were all trying to frighten us, thinking, ‘Their hands will get too weak for the work, and it will not be completed.’ [But I prayed,] ‘Now strengthen my hands.’” (Nehemiah 6:1-9)

Day 17: I don’t want to give up. God, renew my strength. Change my thinking. Renew my mind.

Day 24: I need to check and pay attention to every thought. I feel like I’m falling backward now.

“Watch out that you do not lose what you have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully.” (2 John 1:8)

Day 25: The devil is fighting and attacking me greatly because he doesn’t want me to renew my mind and tear down the stronghold’s he’s worked so hard to build.

Day 27: I feel great today. God’s grace is tearing down my strongholds. God is showing me the lies I believed.

Day 30: Just as with a house renovation, once it is finished, I can’t leave it alone or it will return to its old state. I need to keep it up. Care for it. Catch the small repairs so they don’t turn into large projects.

Day 34: I’ve been fasting from junk food for over 30 days. Because I fasted so long from it, I don’t desire it anymore. If I fast from carnal thoughts, I will no longer desire them. I would be foolish to return to the junk I no longer desire.

Of them the proverbs are true: ‘A dog returns to its vomit,’ and, ‘A sow that is washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud.’” (2 Peter 2:22)

Day 39: I have a fire in my spirit. My mind is being rebuilt with Jesus and the Word of God as my foundation!

 Let the word [spoken by] Christ (the Messiah) have its home [in your hearts and minds] and dwell in you in [all its] richness, as you teach and admonish and train one another in all insight and intelligence and wisdom [in spiritual things, and as you sing] psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, making melody to God with [His] grace in your hearts. (Colossians 3:16, AMP)

Day 40: Lord, use me as an instrument to bring revival to your church and to carry your name before the world (Acts 9:15).

 Day 47: God is doing an amazing work in me. I feel alive and energized and full of the Holy Spirit.

“Nehemiah said, ‘Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is sacred to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.’ Then all the people went away to eat and drink, to send portions of food and to celebrate with great joy, because they now understood the words that had been made known to them.” (Nehemiah 8:10, 12)

 

 

As you were reading the journal entries, did you notice a pattern? The first part (majority) was spent putting off my old self. Once those carnal thoughts were brought to light I was then able to put on my new self: God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus, ready to do the good works God prepared in advance for me to do (Ephesians 2:10).

As God helps us put off our old worldly thoughts, and tear down the strongholds in our minds, He can rebuild and fill our minds with spiritual things (the mind of Christ).

We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words.

The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man’s judgment:

“For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?”

But we have the mind of Christ.

1 Corinthians 2:12-16

 

Heavenly Father,

We praise You for washing away our sins by the death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. We are new creation! The old is gone! Help us to take off our old self and put on our new self. Jesus prayed, “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17). Help us to diligently seek Your Word and continually renew our minds by the truths we learn from the Bible every day.

In Jesus’ precious name, Amen!

 

 

*Come back next Monday as the series on Paul’s letters begins. You can subscribe below to receive email reminders of new posts. You can also use the share tabs below to help spread the word of this series to bless others. Have a blessed week seeking the Lord and renewing your mind in His Word!

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Monday’s Blog: Sin Series “Unbelief”

This is the fifth message in my series on sin. As I talked about pride last week, I mentioned how our carnal mind is defiled with unbelief.

Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.

Romans 8:7-8, KJV

Our carnal mind will always lead us in opposition to God’s will. Satan knows that. That’s why our mind is the battlefield where he attacks us the most. The Apostle Paul explained:

“By the humility and gentleness of Christ, I appeal to you—I, Paul, who am ‘timid’ when face to face with you, but ‘bold’ toward you when away! I beg you that when I come I may not have to be as bold as I expect to be toward some people who think that we live by the standards of this world. For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

2 Corinthians 10:1-5

When we let our carnal mind have free reign over us, by not taking our carnal thoughts captive and making them obedient to Christ (not accepting what doesn’t agree with the Word of God), we give Satan an inroad to set up strongholds of unbelief.

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.

Romans 8:5-6, NKJV

I wrote a message once on a promise God gave us in His Word. I shared all the Scriptures that confirmed this promise was given to us in Christ. For no matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘Yes’ in Christ” (2 Corinthians 1:20). I also shared how God manifested this promise in my life and many others. A person who hadn’t seen that promise manifest in their life yet, came against me claiming it wasn’t true. Their argument was backed by human understanding (our carnal mind), not by spiritual understanding (mind of Christ). We have to stand firm believing God’s Word, not what others say or are experiencing.

For what if some did not believe? Will their unbelief make the faithfulness of God without effect? Certainly not! Indeed, let God be true but every man a liar.

Romans 3:3-4, NKJV

Abraham took his carnal thoughts captive and stood in faith, believing God was faithful to His Word. Even though it was a fact that he and Sarah were too old to conceive, he knew what God promised him. He knew if God promised him a son, God would deliver him a son.

Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.

Romans 4:18-21

The Bible tells us to take up the shield of faith, with which we can extinguish all the flaming arrows of deception Satan throws at us (Ephesians 6:16). The church has not been holding up their shield of faith. As a result, we’ve allowed Satan in to sow deception and create false doctrine. And the Bible warns us it’s only going to get worse.

For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.

2 Timothy 4:3

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves … lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.

They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over gullible women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these teachers oppose the truth. They are men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected.

2 Timothy 3:1-8

See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.

Colossians 2:8

Heavenly Father,

We praise You for showing us the truth in Your Word. Help us to take up our shield of faith and stand firm believing everything in Your Word. Help us to take captive every carnal thought and make it obedient to Christ. We want to take hold of all that You have promised us in Your Word. Help us believe even when we don’t see Your promises manifest right away. Jesus said if we abide in His Word, we are truly His disciples, and we will know the truth and the truth shall make us free (John 8:31-32). We must believe first before we see Your promises come to pass in our lives. In Jesus’ name we pray, believing Your Word is truth! Amen!

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.

1 Peter 5:8-9

Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.

1 Corinthians 15:1-2

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*Come back next Monday as the “Sin Series” continues.

*All Bible verses are taken from the NIV, unless otherwise noted.

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