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

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

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

1 John 4:4 (KJV)

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

He begins the chapter:

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

v. 1-3 (NASB)

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

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

Philippians 2:5-11 instructs us:

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

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

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

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

Paul finishes the chapter:

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

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

v. 4-13 (NASB)

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

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

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

v:13 (AMP)

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

Heavenly Father,

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

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

Proverbs 2:6 (KJV)

 

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

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

We continue our study of Paul’s letters this week with 1 Corinthians 1. Paul begins addressing this letter not only to the Corinthians, but to all who call on the name of Jesus. As you read below, all who call on the name of Jesus have been sanctified in Christ. The word translated into: “To those who have been sanctified” is hagiazó, which means I make holy, treat as holy, set apart as holy, sanctify, hallow, purify. All who call on the name of Jesus have been made holy. Have been set apart as holy. Have been treated as holy. Have been purified. Praise God! It’s been done!

Paul, called as an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother,

To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

v. 1-3 (NASB)

Paul was called as an apostle (a messenger, one sent on a mission), not by his own will, but by the will of God. God has to be the one to call us and send us out. We can’t call or send ourselves out.

Paul continues:

I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus, that in everything you were enriched in Him, in all speech and all knowledge, even as the testimony concerning Christ was confirmed in you, so that you are not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will also confirm you to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

v. 4-9 (NASB)

The word “confirm” means “secure.” God will secure our sanctification (holiness) to the end, so that we will be blameless when Christ returns. We can stop worrying about failing and worrying that we’ve fallen beyond recovery. God won’t fail us. He will lift us up. We are always secure in Him.

Even though we are sanctified in Him, His holiness is not always seen in us. We have to allow Him to work in us. For God’s holiness to be seen in us Paul exhorts us to:

Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment. For I have been informed concerning you, my brethren, by Chloe’s people, that there are quarrels among you. Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, “I am of Paul,” and “I of Apollos,” and “I of Cephas,” and “I of Christ.” Has Christ been divided? Paul was not crucified for you, was he? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, so that no one would say you were baptized in my name. Now I did baptize also the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized any other.

For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not in cleverness of speech, so that the cross of Christ would not be made void.

v. 10-17 (NASB)

It is not God’s will for the church to be divided. Jesus is the head of the church. He is the One we need to be following. When we are each following Him, doing what He sends us out to do, we will not be divided.

I like how the Amplified version translates the last verse above:

For Christ (the Messiah) sent me out not to baptize but [to evangelize by] preaching the glad tidings (the Gospel), and that not with verbal eloquence, lest the cross of Christ should be deprived of force and emptied of its power and rendered vain (fruitless, void of value, and of no effect).

v. 17 (AMP)

This is a powerful statement! When we don’t allow the Holy Spirit to minister through us, and instead try to minister His Word through our own wisdom, the words we preach will lack the power to produce fruit. God says, For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it (Isaiah 55:10-11, KJV). When God sends His Word out through us, we can be certain that it will produce fruit.

In the rest of the chapter, Paul talks about God’s wisdom versus the world’s wisdom.

For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

For it is written, “I WILL DESTROY THE WISDOM OF THE WISE, AND THE CLEVERNESS OF THE CLEVER I WILL SET ASIDE.”

Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

v. 18-25 (AMP)

All the wisdom and power of God are in Christ.  That’s why Jesus said apart from Him we can do nothing. If we remain in Him and He in us, we will bear much fruit (John 15:5). Paul said, And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:1-2).

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. But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, “LET HIM WHO BOASTS, BOAST IN THE LORD.”

v. 26-31

God calls those who are not wise by human standards to shame those who are. He humbles all this way so that no one can boast before Him. The one who is wise by the world’s standard is humbled when their wisdom is brought down by someone who is not influential or intellectual in the world. The one who is not considered wise by the world’s standard is humbled when God speaks through them because they know that it is God’s power and wisdom speaking through them, not their own.

Heavenly Father,

We praise You for sanctifying us in Christ and confirming us to the end so that we will be blameless at His return. We praise You for Your wisdom and power in Christ. Help us to remain in Him and allow Your Holy Spirit to produce fruit in and through us. We humbly rely on You and Your wisdom, not our own.

In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen!

 

*We will continue next  week with studying 1  Corinthians 2. Have a blessed week remaining in Christ and  relying on His wisdom!

 

 

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Marriage Series: “Wisdom Builds the House” by Warren Baldwin

MARRIAGE-PIC21

I invited Warren Baldwin to share the next message in my marriage series. Warren and his wife, Cheryl, have been married for 31 years. Together they have ministered with churches in Florida, Wyoming and Kansas. They enjoy Bible camps, mission trips and sports activities. They have three grown children.  Warren is the author of a book on Proverbs, Roaring Lions, Cracking Rocks, and other Gems from Proverbs. A second volume on Proverbs is nearing completion.

Warren was one of the first bloggers I met when I first started my blog in 2010. I was drawn to Warren’s blog “Family Fountain” because of the strong love he has for his wife and children. He lives by the wisdom God has given us in His Word, and his family is blessed because of it.  I pray Warren’s message today encourages us to seek God for His wisdom, knowledge, and understanding in our marriages.

MR AND MRS BALDWIN

Wisdom Builds the House

By Warren Baldwin

“By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures.” Proverbs 24:3-4

The wisdom God calls for in building a home has already been at work in building the universe. “By wisdom the Lord laid the earth’s foundations, by understanding he set the heavens in place; by his knowledge the deeps were divided, and the clouds let drop the dew” (Proverbs 3:19-20).

God’s wisdom was and is active in two ways in the universe we inhabit. One, he established the earth and the heavens. He initiated, formed and made everything we see in the created order. Two, God sustains the creation he made. The clouds drop the dew to sustain life upon the earth. Initiating and sustaining are two important works of godly wisdom.

Solomon invokes this creation imagery when he speaks of marriage and family. The wisdom of God that created and sustains the universe is the same wisdom that can create and sustain a marriage through many years and changing conditions.

Bruce Waltke identifies some of the qualities of godly wisdom as “sobriety, sound judgment, discretion, careful planning, hard work, patience, and all the other virtues taught in Proverbs …” (Proverbs, 1:261). Some of these other virtues are love, truth, honesty, dedication and determination. Surely God has shown these qualities to us in abundance since our creation! When are in relationship with God, these positive virtues become active in our lives, and we function with god-like discretion, patience, honesty and love.

When these qualities of wisdom are present in the lives of a couple forming their family, they establish a firm basis and foundation for the family, just as they do for the universe. The sound judgment of God, his careful planning, hard work, love, dedication and determination not only produced the grandeur of the mountain ranges and oceans, but produced and continue to produce human beings, families, and social systems. Life, marriage and family are the product of God’s wisdom.

I don’t want the talk of careful planning and work to rob joy from the early days of marriage. Every couple should experience the ecstasy of their beginning walk together. The newness and excitement create memories and a bond to spice up the relationship for many years. But spice is not the substance of a meal, and neither is it the substance of life-long marital relationship. For a marriage to endure and provide stability and healthy emotions for everyone in the household, it must be created and sustained by wisdom.

A marriage built on wisdom is going to require discretion, both before and after the wedding. Discretion is used when we decide who to date and how far to go in expressing affection. Discretion is used after marriage in our choice of friendships (we want friends who honor our marriage and mate), money management, conversation with our spouse, and a host of other things.

Eventually, every married person is going to have to do the hard work of forgiving their spouse for an offense. We will also have to accept grace from our spouse, and humbling ourselves to receive forgiveness without excuses, justifications or rationalizations can be gut-wrenchingly tough.

When we marry we dedicate ourselves to an imperfect person. In time we will discover their personality quirks and character defects, requiring us to summon massive reserves of patience and understanding. Marriage will succeed not because the joy and ecstasy of the early stages of romance is a daily companion, but because of the determination to be a faithful companion no matter what the circumstances.

Every ingredient of godly wisdom described here are also ingredients of tough love, a love that continues to forgive, encourage and persevere when it would be easier to walk away. To practice this kind of love and wisdom is to live “within that broad scope of the Lord’s wisdom” (Waltke, 1:261). That kind of wisdom has sustained human life since the creation, and it will sustain our marriages and families.

People seeking and functioning within godly wisdom resist the shortcuts to happiness and fulfillment the world offers. An example of such a short cut occurs in Proverbs 1:10-19, in the story of the foolish young men who greedily seek to fill their houses with treasures stolen by violence from innocent people. Their community is built on the foundation of selfish pursuits, and will end in the destruction of their lives.

In contrast, the godly couple who exercises the ingredients of wisdom are allowing their family to be created and sustained by solid principles of wisdom that have proven their effectiveness over time. Instead of filling their rooms with stolen treasures obtained by violent means, wise couples fill the rooms of their homes with “rare and beautiful treasures.” These special treasures are the fruit of a lifetime of careful living: trust in each other, healthy romance, and enjoyment of each other’s company. Nothing is more meaningful to a couple who has journeyed through life together.

Every couple that walks the aisle is hoping to create a marriage that lasts. It is good for us to remember that the wisdom of God that created and sustains the universe is ready to do the same for our families.

Warren Baldwin

*You can follow Warren and read more messages on marriage on his blog Family Fountain.

 


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