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

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

Paul begins:

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

v. 1-5 (NASB)

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

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

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

Paul continues to explain:

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

v. 6-11 (NASB)

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

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

Paul continues:

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

v. 12-13 (NASB)

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

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

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

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

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

Luke 22:31-34 (NKJV)

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

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

Paul continues:

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

v. 14-22 (NASB)

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

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

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

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

v. 23-33 (NASB)

 

Heavenly Father,

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

 

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

 

 

 

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Monday’s Blog: Paul Series “1 Corinthians 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 “1 Corinthians 5”

We continue our study of Paul’s letter this week with 1 Corinthians 5. It was reported to Paul that there was sexual immorality, incest, going on in the church and nothing was being done to stop it.

It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and immorality of such a kind as does not exist even among the Gentiles, that someone has his father’s wife. You have become arrogant and have not mourned instead, so that the one who had done this deed would be removed from your midst.

For I, on my part, though absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged him who has so committed this, as though I were present. In the name of our Lord Jesus, when you are assembled, and I with you in spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus, I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

 v. 1-5 (NASB)

Last week, in 1 Corinthians 4, we read how Paul instructed the Corinthians not to judge: “I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes” (1 Corinthians 4:3-5, NASB).  In chapter five, Paul tells them he has judged the man who committed incest and he instructs them to do the same.  We know that God’s Word does not contradict itself, so the judging mentioned in these chapters has to be two different types—unrighteous and righteous.

In the last chapter, after Paul told them to judge nothing, he explained that the Lord will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. I believe unrighteous judging is when we judge what we can’t see. Unrighteous judging is when we judge people’s hearts and are critical and condemning. Jesus said, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:3-5, NIV).

Righteous judging, as Paul explains in chapter five,  is when we are clearly led by God with the purpose of leading someone out of darkness and into the light. Leading them out of sin and into freedom.

Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.

Galatians 6:1 (NIV)

Paul explains in the rest of chapter five why they were to judge the sexually immoral man.

Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough? Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed. Therefore let us celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world. But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler—not even to eat with such a one. 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. REMOVE THE WICKED MAN FROM AMONG YOURSELVES.

v. 6-13 (NASB)

Leaven and unleaven figuratively mean “corrupted” and “uncorrupted.” Paul was warning them that if they allow and are proud of sin in the church, it will spread to and corrupt the entire church. A little leaven (corruption) leavens (corrupts) the whole lump of dough. Paul said to “clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened.”  We are uncorrupted in Christ. We are a new creation. The old things passed away, and new things have come (2 Cor. 5:17). We must stand guard and not allow the old things (sin) back in.

Jesus gave us clear instruction how to deal with sin in the body of Christ:

If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. “But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that BY THE MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES EVERY FACT MAY BE CONFIRMED. “If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. “Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.

“Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. “For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.”

Matthew 18:15-20 (NASB)

Jesus has given us authority to bind (declare to be prohibited and unlawful) sin and loose (break, destroy, annul) its power from spreading and contaminating the body of Christ.

Keep reminding God’s people of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen. Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. Their teaching will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have departed from the truth. They say that the resurrection has already taken place, and they destroy the faith of some. Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.

2 Timothy 2:14-19 (NIV)

In church discipline, once we have followed the steps Jesus’ instructed us to take, when the man or woman repents, Paul instructs us to forgive and reaffirm our love for them.

Sufficient for such a one is this punishment which was inflicted by the majority, so that on the contrary you should rather forgive and comfort him, otherwise such a one might be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. Wherefore I urge you to reaffirm your love for him. For to this end also I wrote, so that I might put you to the test, whether you are obedient in all things. But one whom you forgive anything, I forgive also; for indeed what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, I did it for your sakes in the presence of Christ, so that no advantage would be taken of us by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes.

2 Corinthians 2:6-11 (NASB)

Righteous judging will always be for the good of the one who is being judged, and good for the body of Christ as a whole.

 

Heavenly Father,

We praise You that You are our righteous Judge. Everything You’ve given us and instructed us to do and not to do is for our own good. Help us not to unrighteously judge ourselves and others. Remove the strongholds of sin in our lives. Remove the planks from our eyes so we can see clearly to help and lead others out of sin. Help us to use the authority Jesus’ has given us and bind-prohibit sin, and loose-destroy it’s power from corrupting us. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

 

 

*This series will continue next week as we study 1 Corinthians 6.  Have a blessed week with the Lord keeping your hearts guarded against sin!

 

 

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Monday’s Blog: Paul Series “Romans 6”

We continue our study of Paul’s letters in Romans to Philemon. Last week, in Romans 5 we learned the benefits of being justified by faith. Two of the benefits Paul talked about were grace and righteousness.

For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ

Romans 5:17 (NASB)

In Romans 6, Paul talks about how God’s grace and gift of righteousness are not licenses to continue in sin.

In the first half of the chapter, he shares why as he explains how we are dead to sin:

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?”

 v. 1-2 (NASB)

I like how the Amplified version explains what it means to be dead to sin:

Are you ignorant of the fact that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?

We were buried therefore with Him by the baptism into death, so that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious [power] of the Father, so we too might [habitually] live and behave in newness of life.

For if we have become one with Him by sharing a death like His, we shall also be [one with Him in sharing] His resurrection [by a new life lived for God].

We know that our old (unrenewed) self was nailed to the cross with Him in order that [our] body [which is the instrument] of sin might be made ineffective and inactive for evil, that we might no longer be the slaves of sin.

For when a man dies, he is freed (loosed, delivered) from [the power of] sin [among men].

Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him,

Because we know that Christ (the Anointed One), being once raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has power over Him.

For by the death He died, He died to sin [ending His relation to it] once for all; and the life that He lives, He is living to God [in unbroken fellowship with Him].

Even so consider yourselves also dead to sin and your relation to it broken, but alive to God [living in unbroken fellowship with Him] in Christ Jesus.

Let not sin therefore rule as king in your mortal (short-lived, perishable) bodies, to make you yield to its cravings and be subject to its lusts and evil passions.

v. 3-12 (AMP)

When you die, sin no longer has control over you. Paul is telling us that since we have died with Christ, we have been freed from sin, so we should no longer submit ourselves to its control.

Even though we know that we have died with Christ, do you often feel like sin does have power of us? How do we break free from its control?

Paul instructed us to consider ourselves dead to sin. But we can’t forget that he also instructed us to consider ourselves alive to God. In the second half of Romans 6, he explains what it means to be alive to God:

and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.  For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.

“What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be! Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness?

v. 13-17 (NASB)

To be alive to God is to be living in unbroken fellowship with Him. When we died, our relationship to sin was ended. But when we were made alive, our relationship to God was restored. Paul instructs us not to submit ourselves to sin’s control by presenting ourselves as slaves to it once again. Instead, we are now to submit ourselves to God’s control and present ourselves as slaves to righteousness.

Do you notice how easily you fall when you neglect your relationship with God? When sin has control over us, we have broken fellowship with God and returned to being a slave to sin. To break free from sin’s control, we simply return to God and restore fellowship with Him. Since our relationship with Him has been permanently restored, we can approach Him with confidence that He will give us the grace we need to help us turn away from sin.

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Hebrews 4:15-16 (NIV)

To summarize Romans 6, we have died with Christ and been set free from sin.  We have been raised with Christ and made alive to God. To no longer submit ourselves as slaves to sin, we must submit ourselves to God as slaves to righteousness.

If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.

John 8:36 (KJV)

Heavenly Father,

We praise You that You have set us free from sin and broken our relationship to it. It no longer has power over us. We praise You for making us alive in Christ, and restoring our relationship with You, just as You intended from the beginning. Help us to keep our fellowship with You and submit to You, so You can fill us with Your righteousness.

In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen!

 

How did God speak to you through Romans 6? Is there anything He revealed that you would like to share with others? 

 

*Come back next Monday as we study Romans 7. 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 in fellowship with our amazing God!

 

 

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Monday’s Blog: Sin Series “Envy”

This is the seventh message in my series on sin in the church. Last week, I talked about how our spirit is perfectly holy in Christ. When our soul (mind, will, and emotions) and spirit are in agreement, our body (flesh) will follow.

I’ve already talked about bringing our mind into agreement with our spirit. Now we are focusing on our emotions.

James 3:14-16 warns us:

But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.

We may not realize that envy is linked to selfishness. To be envious is to be discontent with who we are and what we have (focusing on ourselves), and to be jealous of and covet what someone else has.

Selfishness always leads to discontentment, which leads to envy. When we focus on ourselves we break our fellowship with the Lord. Jesus fills us with everything we need. When we try to fill ourselves, we will be left in lack. Our lack will then cause us to envy and seek what others have.

In the Old Testament, the Lord’s people were left unfulfilled and in lack as they pursued their own will instead of God’s will. The Lord spoke to them through the prophet Haggai:

Now this is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. You have planted much, but harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.”

This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build my house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored,” says the Lord. “You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?” declares the Lord Almighty. “Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with your own house. Therefore, because of you the heavens have withheld their dew and the earth its crops. I called for a drought on the fields and the mountains, on the grain, the new wine, the olive oil and everything else the ground produces, on people and livestock, and on all the labor of your hands.

Haggai 1:5-11

The King James and Amplified Versions define envy as “an evil eye” because it is not of God; it is of the devil (see James 3 above). Envy distorts our vision so we can’t see the truth. The devil takes what we can’t have (what is harmful to us) and makes it appealing in order to trap us. He did that in the Garden of Eden with Eve. The serpent (devil) pointed out the only fruit that was forbidden. “When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it” (Genesis 3:6).

Proverbs 7:21-23 shows how deceptively appealing adultery is, and the trap it leads us into:

With persuasive words she led him astray; she seduced him with her smooth talk. All at once he followed her like an ox going to the slaughter, like a deer stepping into a noose till an arrow pierces his liver, like a bird darting into a snare, little knowing it will cost him his life.

The devil will also tempt us to envy what others have in order to prevent us from living out our calling. When my older brother and I were kids, my parents would hide eggs for us to find on Easter morning. My brother would follow behind me and then complain that I would get all the eggs. Every year, my parents would tell him to stop following me and find his own eggs. He would never listen and I’d always end up with more eggs than him.

I think we do the same thing in life. We see someone living out their calling, so we try to follow what they’re doing instead of seeking our own divine purpose. We are then left in lack while they are fulfilled. We complain at God and wonder why He’s blessing them more than us. But God is like my parents and telling us to stop following others and start following Him.

In my book “The LOVE Walk,” I shared how envy distorted the truth in my life for many years and kept me from my calling. When I started seeking God’s will, I found that most of the things I thought I had to have in the past, and was envious of in others, I didn’t even want. Envy blinds us of our true heart’s desires. It makes us think we need something that we don’t even want. Proverbs 14:30 says, “A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.” Envy robs us of our life because it keeps us chasing after something we can never take hold of.

And I saw that all labor and all achievement spring from man’s envy of his neighbor. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.

Ecclesiastes 4:4

I remember the freedom I felt when I finally laid down everything I was chasing after and gave my will over to God’s will. When I stopped wanting what others had, and started seeking His will, I became free to be me. By being content with what God has given me, He has been able to bring out His heart’s desires in me. I couldn’t see those desires when they were buried in a heart filled with selfish ambition and envy.

Let not your heart envy sinners: but BE YOU in the fear of the LORD all the day long.

Proverbs 23:17 (AKJV)

Heavenly Father,

We praise You that You have no favorites. You will never bless anyone more or less than You would bless us. Your promises are the same for all who will receive them. We praise You that You have gifted and called each of us to a divine purpose. Help us to seek Your will so that we can live out the calling You have marked out for us. We praise You that Your gifts and calling are irrevocable (Romans 11:29). We turn from our selfish pursuits and seek Your will and receive our calling.

In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen!

 

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

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

*If you haven’t received Christ into your heart, click on the “SALVATION” tab at the top of the website.


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Monday’s Blog: Sin Series “Pride”

This is the fourth message in my series on the bondage of sin that is weighing down the body of Christ today. Last week, I talked about tolerating sin by allowing the world to be our teachers instead of Jesus.

James 4:4-10 warns:

You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely? But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:

“God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

The world is full of pride. It cannot submit to God’s authority. When we fall into pride we also can’t submit to His authority. The verse above exhorts: “purify your hearts, you double-minded.” To be double-minded means we believe in God but then we doubt His wisdom and authority.

James 1:5-8 explains:

If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does. 

The reason we fall into doubt is because we submit too often to our carnal mind. Our carnal mind is defiled with unbelief. When we submit to it, it leads us in opposition to God’s will.

Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.

Romans 8:7, KJV

Our Spiritual mind is purified in Christ. When we submit to it, it leads us into God’s will.

For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.

1 Corinthians 2:16, KJV

How many times do we seek God for His will on a matter, but then our minds start rolling through our own ideas of how to handle it?  If we don’t cast down those carnal thoughts, and submit our minds to trust God’s authority, we will walk in opposition to His will.

I had a situation come up recently. I went to God with the matter, and I felt Him speak to me in my Spirit that I was to leave it in His hands and do nothing. Whenever God tells me to do nothing about something, I know right away it’s going to be a challenge for me. After submitting the situation to God, while waiting on Him to move, my mind continued to think about what I could do to help. Instead of casting down those thoughts, and praising God for coming to my defense and handling it, I submitted to my carnal mind and took the matter into my own hands. By the evening, the situation had spiraled into a huge mess. God humbled me and showed me how much grief could’ve been avoided had I listened to Him in the first place.

To fear the LORD is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech. Counsel and sound judgment are mine; I have understanding and power.

Proverbs 8:13-14

God has all the understanding and power. We don’t. So why would we not want to seek and accept His wisdom and His authority over our own? When the church operates in its own wisdom, it operates in opposition to God. God opposes the proud. Pride is what led to Satan’s destruction. Satan knows if he can tempt us to submit to our carnal mind, he can lead us to follow him to his destruction. I read a message recently that said “Satan promotes pride; it makes you like him (misery loves company).”

God gives grace (power, strength and wisdom) to the humble. If we want to see change in the church we must humble ourselves before God. We as a body must be in unity of the spirit by each of us doing our part and operating in the mind of Christ. In everything we should seek and accept God’s wisdom over our own.

Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.

Romans 12:16, KJV

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Romans 15:5-6

I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.

1 Corinthians 1:10

Finally, brothers, good-by. Aim for perfection, listen to my appeal, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.

2 Corinthians 13:11

Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;

Philippians 1:27, NASB

Fulfill you my joy, that you be like minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.

Philippians 2:2, KJV

I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord.

Philippians 4:2, KJV

Finally, be all of one mind, having compassion one with another, love as brethren, be tender hearted, be courteous:

1 Peter 3:8, KJV

Heavenly Father,

We praise You for giving us the mind of Christ that we may know You and understanding Your will. As these verses above clearly show us, it is Your will that we operate in the mind of the Spirit. Help us keep our thoughts on You and cast down everything that is in opposition to Your will. We humble ourselves before You, and lay down our wisdom in exchange for Your wisdom, Your power, and Your authority. In Jesus name, we submit to You. Amen!

 

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

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

*If you’ve never accepted Christ as your Savior, please click on the “SALVATION” tab at the top of the website. Don’t wait another day!

 

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Monday’s Blog: Sin Series “Tolerating Sin”

This is the third message in my series on sin in the church. Last week, I talked about not slandering our brothers and sisters who are caught in sin. I believe the reason many Christians are in bondage to sin is because we’ve tolerated sin by allowing the world to influence us.

Jesus said, “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit? A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher” (Luke 6:39-40).

We’ve allowed the blind to lead us. We’ve allowed the world to be our teachers. We’ve invited in their morals and viewpoints by listening to their music, and watching their movies, their televisions shows, and their news programs. We’ve invited in their wisdom by learning from their schools, their counselors, and their books. As a result, we’ve carried their viewpoints and morals into our churches, our ministries, our books, our music, and our movies.

“A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.”

Galatians 5:9

God warned us not to conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2). To renew something, you take out the old and replace it with the new. We want the new but we’ve also been holding onto the old. We want God’s wisdom but still continue to seek the world’s wisdom.

The Bible says, “Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? … For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength (1 Corinthians 1:20,25).

I admit it’s not easy to be in this world and not be a part of it. I am just as guilty of allowing the world to influence me. I remember watching a movie with my husband once. When it was over I thought to myself, “What am I doing! I can’t believe I just sat for two hours and let the devil feed me his trash!”

This is the devil’s world (Revelation 12:12). But God hasn’t left us here without help. He’s given us a way to escape the corruption of the world and to stop allowing it to influence us:

His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

2 Peter 1:3-4

When my husband was a teenager he was invited to a Christian camp one summer. He wasn’t raised in the church so he hadn’t known much about God at the time. God touched his heart that summer at camp and he accepted Christ as his Savior. My husband said when Jesus came into his heart he instantly had an overwhelming desire to turn away from sin and do good. The reason wasn’t because he saw other Christians doing good. In fact, he was disappointed at the behavior of some of the boys at camp who smuggled in alcohol. My husband wanted to turn away from sin and do good because he was filled with Jesus. But after leaving camp, and not continuing to seek God and learn from Jesus (until years later), my husband’s desire to turn away from sin quickly faded.

Jesus said, “If you love me, you will obey what I command” (John 14:15). I used to think this meant “If you love me, then you better obey what I command.” But it really means, “If you love me, you will have the desire and ability to obey what I command.”

When we continue to seek Jesus with all our hearts, He fills us with His love so there’s no room to desire anything other than Him.

Ephesians 3:16-19 explains:

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.

When my heart begins to desire the world, that’s my warning sign that I am not seeking God with all my heart. When God has our hearts, our desires will be for Him, and we’ll no  longer desire the things of the world.

1 John 2:15 says, “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”

Heavenly Father,

Jesus prayed: “I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified” (John 17:14-19).

We praise You for sending Jesus to rescue us from the corruption of this world caused by sin. Draw our hearts to You, fill us with Your Holy Spirit and renew our minds with Your Word. We praise You for protecting and sanctifying us through Your Word so that we can be a light to this dark world.

In Jesus we pray, Amen!

 

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

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

*If you’ve never accepted Christ as your Savior, please click on the “SALVATION” tab at the top of the website. Don’t wait another day!

 

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Monday’s Blog: Sin Series “Slandering The Church”

Last week, I started this series on the bondage of sin that is weighing down the body of Christ today. I want to clarify that this series is not meant to criticize or condemn the body of Christ. The Lord is leading me to warn and inform of the dangers of sin, and open the door for His Holy Spirit to convict where necessary. Condemnation is from the devil to pull us deeper into sin. Conviction is from God to turn us to Him so He can lift us out of sin.

Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent.

Revelation 3:19

This week, I want to focus on slander. There is so much slander going on in the church today, particularly toward our own brothers and sisters in Christ.  Have you noticed whenever a well-known preacher messes us, we are the first ones in line to throw a stone at them?

Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?

James 4:11-12

God humbled me once when I joined in on an online discussion to criticize a famous preacher for saying something unbiblical on National television. God humbled me by directing me to King David when Saul was pursuing to kill him. Even though Saul was clearly not obedient to God, David wouldn’t lift his hand or mouth against him because he was God’s anointed.

He said to his men, “The LORD forbid that I should do such a thing to my master, the LORD’s anointed, or lift my hand against him; for he is the anointed of the LORD.” With these words David rebuked his men and did not allow them to attack Saul …

1 Samuel 24:6-7

God has the power to bring down the disobedient. Our criticism doesn’t humble them. God has to humble them.

But it is God who judges: He brings one down, he exalts another.

Psalm 75:7

I was once introduced to a woman who ran an online ministry. Shortly after following her ministry, it became apparent that her focus was to hatefully slander the body of Christ. During one of her hateful remarks toward the church, I felt led to humbly confront her. She responded harshly that she was called to rebuke the church and criticized me for not doing the same.

Criticism is not one of the gifts of the Spirit. In fact, 2 Timothy 2:16 warns us to “shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness” (KJV).

My husband and I once left our church that we had belonged to since we started following Christ twelve years ago. We left because of the slander we heard from others toward several in leadership positions. After years of hearing about the ungodliness and worldliness in our church, it started to embitter our hearts.

We were gone for almost two years and then God called us to humbly return. During our time away, God worked in our hearts and helped us focus on the sin in our lives. As God was purifying my heart, I began to feel sympathy and love for my church. Once God removed the plank in my eyes, I was able to see how much the Lord was working in my church, and that many were obedient to God and filled with the Spirit, especially our Pastor. As I allowed God to work in me, I was able to sincerely love and help my brothers and sisters who were in bondage to sin, instead of feeling bitter toward them and abandoning them.

Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart.

1 Peter 1:22

As we continue to allow God to purify our hearts, and remove the sin in our lives, we can see clearly to help our brothers and sisters who are caught in sin. Criticizing and abandoning our brothers and sisters only causes more division in the body of Christ and pushes the world further away from Christ. Change in the body of Christ starts with you and me. We are responsible to allow the Holy Spirit to work in us so that He can work through us to bring unity and restoration in the church.

Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.

Galatians 6:1

Heavenly Father,

We praise You that You do not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities (Psalm 103:10). Your compassions never fail. They are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23). Help us to have the same compassion for our brothers and sisters in Christ who are deceived and caught in Satan’s trap of sin. Cleanse our hearts and mouths so that we can speak Your truth in love to help set Satan’s captives free (2 Timothy 2:25-26). In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen!

Lord, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill? He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from his heart and has no slander on his tongue, who does his neighbor no wrong and casts no slur on his fellowman.

Proverbs 15:1-3

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Kerry Johnson is sharing on her blog today Chapter Seven: Love Is Not Self-Seeking from my book “The LOVE Walk.” Follow this link to read it.

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

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

*If you’ve never accepted Christ as your Savior, please click on the “SALVATION” tab at the top of the website. Don’t wait another day!

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Preparing For Your Calling Series: “Loving God More Than The World”

In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble. If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.

—2 Timothy 2:20

This is the second message in my series on preparing for your calling. If you missed last week’s message about being called to be Jesus’ disciples follow this link. This week we will focus on the first step in discipleship, learning to love God more than the world. When Jesus called his first disciples they immediately left everything to follow Him.

As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him. Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.

Matthew 4:18-21

What made these men drop everything and immediately follow Jesus? The first disciples were lowly fisherman. They were unschooled, ordinary men (Acts 4:13). I imagine the world wasn’t working well in their favor. When Jesus came, in my opinion, they saw a wonderful opportunity for change.

By the time my eyes were opened to see the truth about Jesus, I was desperate for change. It wasn’t hard for me to follow Jesus. I already despised the things of the world because I witnessed and experienced many of the evil consequences of sin by then.

I witnessed the evil behind drugs and alcohol as I watched it destroyed close family members and friends. I witnessed the evil behind unforgiveness and bitterness as I watched it separate and destroy many relationships. I witnessed the evil behind sexual immorality as it stole my innocence and robbed me of my childhood.  I witnessed the evil behind flirting with worldly lusts as it tore apart my marriage and family.

Looking back now, I know the devil used the evil consequences of sin to try and keep me away from God. But it did the opposite. It sent me running into the arms of Jesus. By the time He came to me, I was ready to leave everything and follow Him. I had despised sin so much that I knew God’s road had to be better.

My past that I once despised turned into the greatest blessing for me. If I had not experienced those things, I wouldn’t have hated sin because I wouldn’t have known how evil it really is. If I had enjoyed the pleasures of this world, I wouldn’t have seen a need to follow Jesus.

I was talking to an atheist once. I was explaining why we need God’s love and protection, and he replied that everything was working well for him. He never had a problem that didn’t work itself out. He was getting by just fine in life without God.  He didn’t see a need to follow God because the world was working for him. He hadn’t yet come face to face with the evil demons behind sin.

The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor, for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. So if you worship me, it will all be yours.”

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only .’”

Luke 4:5-8

The pleasures of this world—the great deception of the devil to keep people from following Jesus. Sadly there are many Christians who also fall into this deception. They may have received Jesus’ atonement for sin to keep them out of hell, but they see no need to live for Him here. The world works well for them. They haven’t experienced the destructive power of sin yet.

Revelation 3:15-16 says “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”

This is a harsh statement. But it’s the truth. We can’t love God and love the sinful pleasures of this world. We can’t follow God’s calling on our lives while walking in the dark. Jesus said, “The man who walks in the dark does not know where he is going” (John 12:35). He also said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12). 

Though my experiences with sin were at times extremely painful, they gave me an awareness that made it easy for me to lay things down once I started following Jesus. I started laying anything down that I felt would feed my flesh instead of His spirit in me. I got rid of the trashy television shows, movies, and books, and started reading the Bible, joining Bible studies and watching things that would help me grow in my relationship with the Lord.

Each time I’d lay something down, God would open my eyes and I’d see those things in a new light—His light of truth. He showed me the danger behind those things so that I wouldn’t want to pick them up again. As I saw how much God loved me and wanted to protect me I began to fall deeper in love with Him.

Even though I’ve fallen many times in my walk with God, I can honestly say I have never enjoyed living in sin. I despise it so deeply that my heart aches when I see sin and the things of this world glorified over God.

Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.

Jude 1:17-23

If your life hasn’t been terribly affected by the sinful nature of this world, and you are having a hard time following Jesus with all your heart, I encourage you to pray and ask God to help you. You don’t have to have something bad happen to you for God to show you the truth. He is faithful to lead you into His will and fill your heart with His love. As He shows you what to turn away from, you’ll begin to see the destructive influence behind those things. And you’ll start to desire to follow Christ with all your heart.

 

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Prayer For The Week:

Heavenly Father,

I praise You for showing me the destructive power of sin that leads to death. Thank You for sending Jesus to set me free from it, and giving me life here on earth and eternally in Heaven with You. Help me lay everything down that is hindering me from following Jesus with all my heart. Prepare me and teach me so that I can be fully equipped to do what You have called me to do. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen!

Verses To Meditate On:

Ephesians 2:1-10; Ephesians 4:17-24; 2 Corinthians 5:17

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*Come back next Monday as the series continues.

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

**I’m going to be interviewed by author Deborah H. Bateman this evening at 9pm EST doing a live teleseminar. Follow this link for info to call in and talk with us about ministry and publishing.


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