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 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 4″

We continue our study of Paul’s letters this week with 1 Corinthians 4. In the beginning of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, Paul said he had been informed there were quarrels among them about who they belonged to. They said they were either of Paul, Apollos, Cephas, or of Christ. In chapter 3, Paul told them that the one who plants or the one who waters is nothing, but it is God who causes the growth.

Paul begins chapter 4 instructing them to regard him and his fellow workers as servants of Christ, trustworthy stewards delivering them the truths from God.

Let a man regard us in this manner, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. In this case, moreover, it is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy. But to me it is a very small thing that I may be examined by you, or by any human court; in fact, I do not even examine myself. For I am conscious of nothing against myself, yet I am not by this acquitted; but the one who examines me is the Lord. Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God.

v. 1-5 (NASB)

Paul gave warning against passing judgment, by giving special honor or being critical to others and ourselves. When we judge others or ourselves, we are making a determination based on our finite thinking, rather than relying on God’s infinite wisdom. Paul didn’t judge himself, because he knew God was more capable to judge him. If Paul had something in him that needed fixing, who would be better qualified to work on him than the One who created him.

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.

Philippians 1:6 (NLT)

Look at verse 5 above, where Paul said not to pass judgment before the time, but to wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God. Could you imagine the God who created you giving you praise! How incredibly amazing is that! That’s why we shouldn’t judge ourselves by our own wisdom. We couldn’t fathom that we would ever be good enough to receive praises from God.

Paul continues warning them against judging by thinking more highly of themselves or of one minister and teacher over another.

Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively applied to myself and Apollos for your sakes, so that in us you may learn not to exceed what is written, so that no one of you will become arrogant in behalf of one against the other. For who regards you as superior? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?

v. 6-7 (NASB)  

The Bible says that if anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves (Galatians 6:3). When we judge based on our own understanding, and compare and measure ourselves against each other, we deceive ourselves and fall into pride.

Paul closes admonishing the Corinthians to repent of their arrogance and pride, and to follow his example in humbly serving Christ.

You are already filled, you have already become rich, you have become kings without us; and indeed, I wish that you had become kings so that we also might reign with you. For, I think, God has exhibited us apostles last of all, as men condemned to death; because we have become a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men. We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are prudent in Christ; we are weak, but you are strong; you are distinguished, but we are without honor. To this present hour we are both hungry and thirsty, and are poorly clothed, and are roughly treated, and are homeless; and we toil, working with our own hands; when we are reviled, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure; when we are slandered, we try to conciliate; we have become as the scum of the world, the dregs of all things, even until now.

I do not write these things to shame you, but to admonish you as my beloved children. For if you were to have countless tutors in Christ, yet you would not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. Therefore I exhort you, be imitators of me. For this reason I have sent to you Timothy, who is my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, and he will remind you of my ways which are in Christ, just as I teach everywhere in every church. Now some have become arrogant, as though I were not coming to you. But I will come to you soon, if the Lord wills, and I shall find out, not the words of those who are arrogant but their power. For the kingdom of God does not consist in words but in power. What do you desire? Shall I come to you with a rod, or with love and a spirit of gentleness?

v. 8-21 (NASB)

Heavenly Father,

We praise You for teaching us through the Apostle Paul’s example to let You be our judge. Your Word is what we measure ourselves and others by, not by our own measurement. If You say we are approved in Christ and will receive praise from You, we joyfully believe and accept that as truth, regardless of our feelings of unworthiness. Help us to lay down our pride and arrogance and humbly follow and faithfully serve You. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

*This series will continue next week as we study 1 Corinthians 5.  Have a blessed week knowing that you have been approved by God through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ!


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Monday’s Blog: Paul Series “1 Corinthians 2”

We continue our study of Paul’s letters this week with 1 Corinthians 2. Paul ended the last letter (1 Corinthians 1) exhorting the Corinthians not to put their faith in the wisdom of man, as the wisdom of the world is foolish. He expressed For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God.”

In chapter 2, he starts off reaffirming them not to put their faith in the wisdom of man, but on the power of God.

And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.

v. 1-5 (NASB)

I went to a friend’s church recently to hear her pastor preach. I had been carrying a lot of burdens and been praying for wisdom. I was hungry for a word from God and was hoping God would answer through this pastor’s message. At the beginning of the service, during the praise and worship, one of the worship leaders started praying. I don’t remember the words he prayed. But I felt the Holy Spirit move through him so powerfully that it instantly lifted all the weight I’d been carrying and answered my prayer.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV)

When I minister I often pray that God gives me the right words to reach others. But all I need is to allow the Holy Spirit to move through me, not my words, as this worship leader did. When I didn’t know Christ, the most powerful witness came through a woman who spoke not a word to me about God. I was a waitress at the time. Many customers gave me Bible tracts and preached the word to me, but none of them moved me to seek God. This woman was different from the others. She did not preach to me. But she did move me to seek God. I remember she was pleasant to wait on after a long stressful lunch rush. I waited on a lot of nice people, but this woman stood out above anyone else. She had a gentle spirit. I felt something touch me through her presence. She left a tip that was greater than her bill, but it was not the tip that moved me. It was the power of the Holy Spirit in her that touched me.

Paul explains in the rest of the chapter the importance of relying on the power of God’s Spirit and His wisdom versus our own:

Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away; but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory; the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory;

but just as it is written,

“THINGS WHICH EYE HAS NOT SEEN AND EAR HAS NOT HEARD,
AND which HAVE NOT ENTERED THE HEART OF MAN,
ALL THAT GOD HAS PREPARED FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIM.”

For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.

But a natural 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 appraised. But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, THAT HE WILL INSTRUCT HIM? But we have the mind of Christ.

v. 6-15 (NASB)

I couldn’t receive God’s Word when it was preached to me because it was spiritual and I was not. It wasn’t until God moved through His Holy Spirit in that woman to draw my heart to Jesus that He was able to reveal Himself to me and give me understanding of His Words.

At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do. “All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

Matthew 11:25-27 (NIV)

Heavenly Father,

We praise You for drawing our hearts to Jesus and giving us the mind of Christ to understand Your will and Your Words. Fill us with Your Holy Spirit and remove everything that hinders Your power from being seen through us to reach others and to draw their hearts to Jesus. We praise You that You have so much more prepared for us than we can even imagine. Your wisdom is so much greater than our understanding. We Praise You in Jesus’ name, Amen!

 

*We will continue Paul’s letters next week with 1 Corinthians 3. Have a blessed week allowing the Spirit of God to move through you!

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Monday’s Blog: Paul Series “Romans 10”

We continue our study of Paul’s letters in Romans to Philemon this week with Romans 10. In Romans 9, Paul talked about how Israel tried to pursue righteousness through works, instead of by faith. Paul expressed his love for them by saying he would give up his salvation if it would save them.

Paul starts Romans 10 off by expressing:

“Brethren, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation. For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge.  For not knowing about God’s righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.”

v. 1-4 (NASB)

They had a zeal for God, but because they lacked knowledge of Him they sought to establish their own righteousness through man made ideas and rules.

‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship is a farce, for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God.’

Matthew 15:8-9 (NLT)

Paul explains in the next verses of Romans 10 the only way to know God and be righteous before Him:

The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart”—that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; for “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

v. 8-13 (NASB)

Believing Jesus is the only way to know God, be righteous, and live eternally with Him. As the familiar saying goes, “Know Jesus, Know God; No Jesus, No God.”  In the verse above, “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart,” is referring to Jesus. Jesus is the Word (God’s testimony) as John1:1-14 explains:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.

The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

John 1:1-14 (NIV)

Psalm 119:105 says, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (KJV). Jesus is the lamp that lights up the path to God. He is the revelation of God (the Word of God). He is God’s testimony of who He is and what His will is.

Jesus said,

“If I testify about myself, my testimony is not true. There is another who testifies in my favor, and I know that his testimony about me is true.

You have sent to John and he has testified to the truth. Not that I accept human testimony; but I mention it that you may be saved. John was a lamp that burned and gave light, and you chose for a time to enjoy his light.

I have testimony weightier than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to finish—the very works that I am doing—testify that the Father has sent me. And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent. You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.

John 5:31-40 (NIV)

Scripture can’t save us. But Scripture testifies to the One who can save us. The Bible says, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16, KJV). God spoke through those He sent to write the Scriptures to testify about Jesus before He sent Him. Though Israel diligently studied the Scriptures, they all did not receive the testimony of Jesus. They denied the gift of eternal life that they so diligently sought to receive.

Paul explains,

How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!”

However, they did not all heed the good news; for Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our report?” So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.

But I say, surely they have never heard, have they? Indeed they have;

Their voice has gone out into all the earth,
And their words to the ends of the world.”

But I say, surely Israel did not know, did they? First Moses says,

“I will make you jealous by that which is not a nation,
By a nation without understanding will I anger you.”

And Isaiah is very bold and says, “I was found by those who did not seek Me,
I
became manifest to those who did not ask for Me.”

But as for Israel He says, “All the day long I have stretched out My hands to a disobedient and obstinate people.”

Romans 10:14-21 (NASB)

People can’t believe if they haven’t heard the truth about Jesus. They can’t hear unless God has sent someone to tell them the truth. And even then, as Paul explained about Israel, though they hear they may not believe. When we are sent to share the truth about Jesus, we pray God shines His light and opens their heart to receive the truth, but we must not lose heart and give up if  they do not believe.

Heavenly Father,

We praise You for giving us knowledge of You and Your will through Your Son, Jesus Christ. We receive His testimony, which is Your Testimony. We receive all that You have given us through Him. Send us out to share His testimony with the world. Help us not lose heart when people do not receive Jesus’ testimony. Give us strength to press on and continue fearlessly sharing Your truth, and allow Your light shine to brightly in us. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen!

Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 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. For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.

2 Corinthians 4:1-4 (NIV)

 

How did God speak to you through Romans 10? Is there anything He revealed that you would like to share with others? 

 

*This series will continue next Monday as we study Romans 11. Have a blessed week sharing God’s testimony in Jesus wherever He sends you!


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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: God Loves YOU!

To celebrate the two year anniversary of this blog, I wanted to share the first post God spoke to me to write. I pray this post is a fresh reminder of how much God loves you!

God Loves YOU!

You have probably heard this over and over, that it no longer penetrates into your heart. It’s hard to be moved by something when you don’t feel it. There are moments when hearing isn’t always enough. Sometimes you need to see it to believe it. I want to take you deeper in the knowledge of God’s love for you, beyond just hearing the words “God loves you.”

I have four children and through the years God’s often used my relationship with them to reveal a greater depth of His love for me. I had an incident awhile back as I was getting ready to bathe my infant. As I was preparing the bathtub, our water valve malfunctioned unbeknownst to me and the tub filled with scalding hot water.

While I was cooling the water, my son proceeded to try to find a way to climb into the bathtub. He was so determined that I had to do everything I could to keep him from jumping in and getting burned. As he was screaming at me, he managed to pull away from me. I was able to catch him by his legs just as he was heading face first into the water.

God used this incident to reveal how great His love is for us. He showed me that we are just like my infant. We often want to plow right through Him and jump into things that only end up hurting us. God tries everything He can to stop us, deter us, warn us, and hold us back, but we plow right through Him with determination to get to what we think we need or want.

God holds us back from certain things and warns us for our protection. It’s not to keep us from what we want. It’s to keep us safe. These things may not be so obvious to us, but God knows the danger that is behind the things that we just don’t see. Just like my baby, I wanted to protect him, though he didn’t understand why I was holding him back. God loves us so much that He wants to protect us from everything that is harmful to us.

When we refuse God, and do not listen to Him, we not only hurt ourselves but we hurt Him as well. God said in Jeremiah 13:17, “But if you do not listen, I will weep in secret because of your pride; my eyes will weep bitterly, overflowing with tears, because the LORD’s flock will be taken captive.” Just as I would’ve been in tears if my son had fallen into that water and gotten burned, God even more so weeps for us when we fall into things that are destructive to us.

If God made us in His image and He knows how many hairs are on our very head (Genesis 1:27, Matthew 10:30), then how valuable and precious we must be to Him! Because my children came from me, I deeply love them from my heart. If I could love my children so deeply, then how much more could the God who created us love us!

We see the greatest display of God’s love in Jesus. I wouldn’t even think of giving my children’s lives for anyone. Yet, God’s love is so great that He gave the ultimate sacrifice, His only Son, in order to save us because He deeply loves us.

This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

1 John 4:9-10

Though Jesus was sinless, He paid the price for ALL our sins, so we who would receive Him would be made holy. Then our Holy God could come and live in us and be close with us, as He originally intended. When we receive Jesus, we receive God’s love for us.

As we spend time talking to God, studying His word, and relying on Him to help us obey what He teaches us, we start to see how vast His love really is. The more I get to know God, the more I fall deeper in love with Him, because He continues unveiling my eyes to see an even greater depth of His love for me.

But whenever a person turns [in repentance] to the Lord, the veil is stripped off and taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty (emancipation from bondage, freedom).

2 Corinthians 3:16-17, AMP

I pray that you would allow God to remove the veil over your heart by receiving Jesus, the only One who can unveil God’s true love for you. Give your heart undividedly over to the One who knows what is best for you because He deeply cares for you.

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Ephesians 3:16-19

 


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