Monday, January 31, 2011

Let him be accursed!

In these last couple weeks as we've been going through 2 Corinthians I have been getting a nervous excitement because I knew we were getting close to Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians. I had this feeling like I used to get as a big fight approached. I would get this nervous excitement whether it was my fight, a friends fight or just a big pay per view fight. I know it sounds silly, but there's always been something about the fight game that gave me a rush. These four letters, in so many ways, are, for some, like the final battle ground for the lost. The information God gives us through Paul in these short letters are so to the point and clear cut that the receiving or rejecting of these Words will become evident almost immediately to the reader and to those around them.

With all big fights, the pre-fight hype is part of the overall experience. As I read some summaries of Galatians today there was one that left me with the pre-fight hype feeling; and before we get rolling I would like to share parts of it with you.

The Galatians having launched their Christian experience by faith, seem content to leave their voyage of faith and chart a new course based on works. In this letter Paul mounts a vigorous attack against the gospel of works, which is no gospel at all. Paul begins by establishing his credentials as an apostle with a message from God. Paul goes on to establish that the law declares men guilty, faith sets them free to enjoy liberty in Christ, but firmly establishes the point that this liberty is not license. Freedom in Christ means freedom to produce the fruits of righteousness through a Spirit-led lifestyle.

Galatians 1:4 who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father,

Notice how Paul said Jesus gave Himself for our sins. When I read this tonight it reminded me of something I read that one of the great preachers of history had said (I think it was Spurgeon):

If you have no sin to repent of, I have no Christ to preach to you.

His point was, until you are brought to the point of Godly sorrow over your sin, you are NOT ready to hear about The Savior who died for the sins of the world.

Further notice that Paul said “might deliver us”. We are not automatically delivered from the law of sin and death; which leads to eternal condemnation. I know that most people don't believe that because most pulpits won't teach that; but it is true. We are not God's children by default! The Bible tells us that we are by nature objects of wrath with the right to become children of God. The Bible also speaks of being adopted in to God's family. Let me ask you this: (if you have kids) How would your kids respond if you walked up to them and said, “Good morning son, today I am going to start the legal process of adoption. I love you and I want to adopt you.” If he is already your son, obviously it is beyond silly that you would adopt him. So, if you are already God's child, why would He adopt you?

Ephesians 2:3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.

Galatians 4:5 to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.

Ephesians 1:5 having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will,

Paul doesn't waste any time jumping right in to the problem.
Galatians 1:6 I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel,

Remember how this same issue came up in the Corinthian church?
2Corinthians 11:3-4 But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.
4 For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted—you may well put up with it!

Before we look at the next 2 verses, let's take a look at a definition of a word....because Paul uses this word TWICE in 2 verses:

Accursed 1. Doomed to destruction or misery:

This is from the Greek word; anathema, which refers to devoting someone to destruction in eternal hell

We looked at that word in 1 Corinthians,

1Corinthians 16:22 If anyone does not love the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be accursed. O Lord, come!

now that we have reviewed, let's see why Paul is using it again:
Galatians 1:8-9 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.
9 As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.

Why do we not hear the FULL counsel of God from most pulpits today? Don't just breeze past that...consider it for a minute....why don't we hear the WHOLE Gospel in most pulpits?

Of course Paul knew why, and Paul also knew how his rebuke would be received by some; but Paul beats them to the punch:

Gal 1:10-12 For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.
11 But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man.
12 For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ.
Is your goal to please man or God?  Is your churches goal to please man or God?

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Noble or Nosy?

 In reading 1 Corinthians and 2 Corinthians, these things are clear:
-Paul brought the Gospel to Corinth
-Many received the Gospel, but sin and false teaching crept in quickly
-Paul is very gentle and meek in dealing with them; however, they mistook his demeanor for weakness

This reminds of a Martial Arts instructor I know who used to say, “don't mistake my kindness for weakness”.

To some extent that is how some are viewing Paul; however, that doesn't bother Paul, because Paul is all about glorifying Jesus Christ. But what does bother Paul is the rumblings he is hearing that the brethren are living in unrepentant sin. Paul is warning them that they will see just how much Christ is speaking in him if he shows up and unrepentant lifestyle is the way of it. I don't know what that looks like; obviously Paul isn't going to beat them up or something, but Paul makes it clear that they will not like seeing him this way.

2Corinthians 13:2-3 I warned those who sinned before and all the others, and I warn them now while absent, as I did when present on my second visit, that if I come again I will not spare them--
3 since you seek proof that Christ is speaking in me. He is not weak in dealing with you, but is powerful among you.

Paul says he WILL NOT spare:
Spare: To use tenderly; to treat with pity and forbearance; to forbear to afflict, punish or destroy.
Remember in chapter 12 how Paul finished up with a list of unrepentant sin and a warning to those that practice them? Isn't it interesting that within 5 verses of this list he gives the command to examine yourselves? We tend to tackle the “biggies” and gloss over the “little ones”; but we need to get our mind and heart around the fact that they are all “biggies”.
2Co 13:5 Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?--unless indeed you fail to meet the test!

Notice how Paul said, “Jesus Christ is in you”.......but did you catch what word followed?


UNLESS INDEED YOU FAIL TO MEET THE TEST! Paul even uses the exclamation point (however that looked in the writing style of the day)

Paul goes on to say that he writes and speaks all things for edification, not for destruction.

Edification A building up, in a moral and religious sense; instruction; improvement and progress of the mind, in knowledge, in morals, or in faith and holiness.

2Co 13:10 Therefore I write these things being absent, lest being present I should use sharpness, according to the authority which the Lord has given me for edification and not for destruction.

Consider this. If I warn my nephew about the dangers and destruction of Meth Amphetamine, family and friends would consider this a noble undertaking even if my nephew may tell me off and tell me to mind my own business. But if I tell my nephew (who is basically a good kid by the worlds standards) that unless he repents of his sinful lifestyle and surrenders to Jesus he is going to hell when he dies; he may tell me off and everyone wonders, “why doesn't Steve mind his own business and quit pushing his beliefs on everyone.”

Isn't that amazing!? Both of these conversations are intended to edify my nephew. Neither are meant for his destruction. Yet, one is noble and one is nosy.  The only one that would be appreciative would be the one that gets saved, and they would be eternally grateful, just as we are for the one(s) the Lord used to save us.  Will you go along to get along at the expense of your loved ones eternal condemnation?

Tell somebody about Jesus.

You be this person:

“I'm nobody, trying to tell anybody about Somebody that can save everybody”

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Spring board in to the rest of Paul's letters.

There is one thing that many people don't consider, or maybe, never knew. Paul's writings are not just any old guy that wrote few letters and wound up in The Bible. Paul's letters were through the revelation and inspiration of God. Jesus literally spoke to Paul. Paul's writings are literally The Word of God. Paul was so overwhelmed with revelation that it would be easy for him to get a big head about it. Paul had so much Godly Wisdom that it would have been easy to get cocky.

Paul even admits that it would be easy for him to get a little full of himself, but in God's Providence, He made sure that didn't happen:
2Corinthians 12:7 And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure.
Paul pleaded with The Lord to take this away; and the answer given to him by The Lord Jesus is the answer that should echo in our head when we face the battles of life, remaining steadfast in The Faith:
2Co 12:9a And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness."
and our response should also be the same:
2Co 12:9b-10 Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Paul finishes up this section making it clear that he has fear. What does Paul fear? Paul fears that when he is able to get back to Corinth that he will not find the brethren walking in The Spirit; he fears that the brethren will look just like the rest of the world and interestingly enough, Paul uses the same words to describe the characteristics of those walking in the flesh that he will use again in letters to the Ephesians, Galatians and Colossians. As you read these words, notice that Paul uses another BIG WORD that we will be talking quite a bit about over the next few weeks.....PRACTICE:
2Corinthians 12:20-21 For I fear lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I wish, and that I shall be found by you such as you do not wish; lest there be contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, backbitings, whisperings, conceits, tumults;
21 lest, when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and I shall mourn for many who have sinned before and have not repented of the uncleanness, fornication, and lewdness which they have practiced.
Here's the ESV version as well:2Corinthians 12:20-21 For I fear that perhaps when I come I may find you not as I wish, and that you may find me not as you wish--that perhaps there may be quarreling, jealousy, anger, hostility, slander, gossip, conceit, and disorder.
21 I fear that when I come again my God may humble me before you, and I may have to mourn over many of those who sinned earlier and have not repented of the impurity, sexual immorality, and sensuality that they have practiced. we get ready to head in to Paul's other letters, now seems to be a good time to hi-lite this point to a couple of you in the spirit of fun.....”don't tell me The Word doesn't talk about repentance as being part of the equation and that the word “practice” isn't used” know who you are punks :) Love Ya!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Satan drags the religious to hell!

As we piece this together....that is the time between the arrival of Paul's first letter to the Corinthians and when Paul is writing his second letter to the Corinthians; it seems clear that there are those that are pushing the agenda that Paul is a false teacher and/or Paul is ministering entirely in the flesh.

I don't think there is any doubt that this exact parallel goes on today, and has since Paul's time. Take a look at what Paul did in his first letter. He called out sin where it was found, he called men to repentance, he called men to practice church discipline and he called men to righteousness. When people speak The Truth in this world, whether it is with all the meekness and humility that can be mustered or not, there are going to be the luke-warm Christians that will call you to judgment. The interesting thing is, they will accuse you of being the one who is judgmental. This is what Paul is dealing with, and Paul uses the word plead and beg, both within 2 verses:
2Corinthians 10:1-2 Now I, Paul, myself am pleading with you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ—who in presence am lowly among you, but being absent am bold toward you.
2 But I beg you that when I am present I may not be bold with that confidence by which I intend to be bold against some, who think of us as if we walked according to the flesh.

As I side note, we can relate to Paul here can't we? Who among us is not more bold in emails than we are in person. I would encourage this: if email, facebook or twitter is the only way you can be bold for Christ; then so be it. Be bold in whatever venue you can! The question isn't, can you be bold in these arenas, the question is, will you be bold?

Back to the chapter:

Paul spends the rest of the chapter basically saying, yes we boast, but we boast in the Lord, and we boast in the fruit the Lord allowed him to produce in Corinth and beyond, through those Corinthians taking the Gospel further.

Corinthians 10:14-16 For we are not overextending ourselves (as though our authority did not extend to you), for it was to you that we came with the gospel of Christ;
15 not boasting of things beyond measure, that is, in other men's labors, but having hope, that as your faith is increased, we shall be greatly enlarged by you in our sphere,
16 to preach the gospel in the regions beyond you, and not to boast in another man's sphere of accomplishment.

Paul wraps up this section making sure that he, nor his reader should confuse who gets the Glory:

2Corinthians 10:17-18 But "HE WHO GLORIES, LET HIM GLORY IN THE LORD."
18 For not he who commends himself is approved, but whom the Lord commends.

Chapter 11
Verse 3 is a HUGE point; look at what Paul says in verse 3 and stop to consider whether this sounds strangely familiar:
2Corinthians 11:3 But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.

Paul makes the point that The Gospel is simple. Before we continue, let's demonstrate it's simplicity:

“We are all sinners deserving of eternal condemnation and the only way to be redeemed from what we rightly deserve is through the blood of Jesus Christ and putting are trust and belief in Him for salvation and that belief leads us to repentance and absolute surrender to Him as our Lord and Savior”

Simple, yet rarely received:

Matthew 7:13-14 "Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.
14 Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.

SIMPE RIGHT! Too simple according to many. Men tend to complicate things....enter Satan. Satan seizing the opportunity slithers his way in and before we can say, “Another Gospel” we have hundreds of religions claiming to be Christians when they are a long way from The One and Only True Gospel.

Pick your favorite “Christ plus” religion:
Catholicism, Mormonism, Jehovah's Witness, etc.

Paul makes it clear; if it is any Gospel other than what he preached, don't be DECEIEVD!

2Corinthains 11:4 For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted—you may well put up with it!

Mormonism and Jehovah's Witness say Jesus isn't God
Catholicism says Jesus' sacrifice on The Cross was not enough, we still need to do more
Islam says Jesus was a prophet and nothing more

Are you seeing the trend....false religions attack the deity of Christ and His work on the Cross.

Satan drags the religious to hell just as easily as he does the worst pagans in the world:

2Corinthians 11:13-15 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ.
14 And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light.
15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.

Those that follow secret societies are aware of a group called Free Masons. Whether the beginnings of this group was noble or not does not excuse the fact that, at it's highest levels today, it is flat out Satan worship. Why do I bring this up? Very rarely do you hear Free Masons speak openly; however, you can find some footage of some of them admitting that they believe that they serve “the good Satan”. In part, or whole, many of these dark societies have been deceived in to believing that Jesus and Satan are brothers, or some other variation. They have been further deceived in to thinking that they are the ones serving “the winner” when in fact they are only bringing evil to the depths that will land them in the deepest pits of hell. The ultimate point is, this is an example of Satan disguising himself as an angel of light; which is how those of the secret society called the Illuminati think of themselves; “the enlightened ones”. As you read this, many of you may be thinking, “OK, he has really lost it now.” You need to remember:
Ephesians 6:12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

As I finished reading this chapter I couldn't help but think of the article I read today about a country in Africa that has ramped up its persecution of Christians. The article made the point that the country has authorized Catholic, Lutheran and Islamic churches. Isn't that interesting that those “sects” would be left untouched as they brutalize and kill true followers of Christ. It reminds me of what Jesus said:

John 15:18 "If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you.

Knowing this would allow us to connect the dots as to why Paul would establish his credentials as a true minister of The Gospel in this way as he makes a clear distinction between himself and the false teachers that have emerged:
2Corinthians 11:22-27 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? So am I.
23 Are they ministers of Christ?—I speak as a fool—I am more: in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often.
24 From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one.
25 Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep;
26 in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren;
27 in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness—

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

How should we give?

I have to confess of Chapter 8 and 9 had me wanting to read and move on; but the Truth is, we need to consider what Paul is making clear in these 2 chapters.

This morning I thought more about it and re-read both chapters. I concluded this: We as “rugged hard working Americans” don't like some of this text because it sounds like socialism. But, as you consider it deeper, it is NOT socialism and it is not even political. Before I continue, let's revisit chapter 8, verses 12-15:
2Corinthians 8:12-15 For if the readiness is there, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have.
13 For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened, but that as a matter of fairness
14 your abundance at the present time should supply their need, so that their abundance may supply your need, that there may be fairness.
15 As it is written, "Whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack."
First, let's set the scene. Corinthian believers have determined in there heart that they wanted to provide for the financial needs of the saints in Jerusalem (v. 5). The saints in Jerusalem weren't lazy and idle; they were doing God's Work, whether preaching The Gospel or otherwise. It is important that we dispel this notion that these are lazy people looking for a hand out.

Second, Paul is talking about helping the brethren; not putting money into a collective and redistributing it to any old 'Tom, Dick or Harry'. This money is to minister to the saints!

2Corinthians 9:1 Now it is superfluous for me to write to you about the ministry for the saints,
As in ALL things, God looks to the condition of our heart.
2Corinthians 9:6-7 But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.
7 So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.
GRUDG'INGLY, adv. Unwillingly; with reluctance or discontent; as, to give grudgingly.

Now here's the paradigm shift.....WE ONLY GIVE WHAT HE PROVIDES!! But take a look at what He does for those who are genuinely generous, cheerful in giving and their heart is not reluctant or regretful:

2Corinthians 9:10 Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness,

Proverbs 22:9 He who has a generous eye will be blessed, For he gives of his bread to the poor.
In addition to administering to the saints, a cheerful giver is expressing their abounding love and thanks to God:
2Corinthians 9:12 For the administration of this service not only supplies the needs of the saints, but also is abounding through many thanksgivings to God,

Matthew 6:19-20 "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal;
20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Don't get it backwards!

2Corinthians 8:2-3 that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality. 3 For I bear witness that according to their ability, yes, and beyond their ability, they were freely willing,

2Corinthians 8:2-3 (ESV) for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. 3 For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord,

What an amazing example for us!  Does anyone else feel the weight of conviction reading these two verses; or just me?

-They are afflicted....yet joyous

-They are in, not just poverty, but EXTREME poverty and they gave over and above their ability

When we truly Trust in The Lord, it is easy to be joyous.....when we truly Trust in The Lord, it is easy to be generous.....

However, we dare not get it backwards:

2Corinthians 8:5 And not only as we had hoped, but they first gave themselves to the Lord, and then to us by the will of God.


Remember what we talked about a few weeks ago; receieving Jesus as your Lord and Savior is like the inhale; the fruit of belonging to The King is the natural, effortless exhale.  Joy, generousity, good works, love, self-control, obedience, etc.
recalling our discussion yesterday, consider this:

Peace, Joy, Kindness, Goodness, Self-Control, Love....all of this and much more starts with GODLY SORROW!  Isn't that AMAZING!

1) Trust in Jesus
2) Godly Sorrow
3) Repentance
4) Salvation
5) Transformation
6) Fruit of The Spirit manifest in our life

I understand this seems very simplified; but in looking at this progression, where are you?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Missing in most pulpits!

Hello Everyone!
If you don't always read the daily emails, I am pleading with you to read, meditate on and do not let yourself rest until you really consider these things.
As some of you know, I am passionate about speaking against false teaching; especially what has come to be known as “Easy Believe-ism”. I fell prey to this doctrine; and it scares me to think I was one of those that was deceived in to thinking I belonged to Jesus (thinking that I was saved) and I was not. I could have left this world thinking I had a place in Heaven, only to wind up, justly, in hell.
To make sure there is no confusion; “Easy Believe-ism” is a doctrine that is running rampant in America; it is a doctrine that basically says, “say this prayer and you will go to Heaven” is a doctrine of alter calls with no call to is a doctrine that does not speak of is a doctrine of silly cliques, like, “some Christians are so Heavenly minded they're no earthly good”. The reality is, “Christians in name only” are so earthly minded they are no Heavenly good because they don't preach the whole Gospel. Why do think that is? Because the whole Gospel offends.
I am going to say it straight right now and some of you may get upset. Some of you may get so upset that this will be the last email of mine you will ever read. Please know that what I am about to say is not from a lofty perch of righteousness, it is from a lowly position of a slave to the Most High. It is from a position of one who weeps for those that have been deceived. That being said....
Some of you reading this (whether on email or blog) are reading this as condemned people. If you fell dead tonight you would wake up in hell. Before you write me off as a madman or an over the top religious quack, please consider this:
2 Corinthians 7 starts out saying:
Therefore, having these promises....(let's stop there)
What promises? The promises God made in Isaiah and Paul reiterates in 2 Corinthians 6. The promise where God commands us to come out of false teaching and not to touch what is unclean....then what?...
2Corinthians 6:17
(ESV) Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you,
Continuing on in our first verse today, in light of the promise that He will be our Father; and we shall be His sons and light of this Truth:
2Corinthians 7:1 Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
1John 3:3 And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.
This is repentance! Change of mind, change of direction.....agreeing with God that our sin is an abomination and turning away from it....turning away from it and turning to God. Seeking first The Kingdom of God and His Righteousness!
Matthew 6:33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
Paul wrote some hard Truths in his first letter to the Corinthians, although it brought him distress he knew he had to say the things he did. Although the Corinthians didn't receive it well at first, the report came from Titus that it produced Godly sorrow. Godly sorrow produces repentance. Real Godly sorrow over our sin leaves us broken, fleeing to The Savior in repentance. Worldly repentance leads to death. Worldly repentance feels bad that we screwed up again, yet knows we will be right back in the slop again soon.
You might say, well that is not the way I was taught The Gospel. THEN YOU WERE TAUGHT WRONG! If it was just a matter of believing Jesus was The Son of God the demons would be saved:
James 2:19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble!
Paul makes it clear right is SO CLEAR!!! Read it carefully:
2Corinthians 7:9-10 Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing.
10 For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.
1st: Godly Sorrow
2nd: Repentance
3rd: Salvation
NO works, NO ritual, NO alter call, NO parroted prayer.....JUST BROKENNESS!!
BROKENNESS!...NOTHING TO OFFER SPIRITUALLY!....This is what Jesus was talking about in Matthew 5:
Matthew 5:3 "Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
(Poor in spirit.....nothing to offer but utter dependence on Him)
Matthew 5:4 Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted.
(mourning....mourning over our sin....broken over our sin)
Nothing to bring to the table except a broken heart and a feeble prayer that says;
“Lord, be merciful to me a sinner”
If you hate me for speaking the Truth, I am in good company.  If you disagree, please show me in the Word, not oppinion.
I love you all!
Galatians 4:16 Have I therefore become your enemy because I tell you the truth?

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Is God's Grace Worthless?

2Corinthians 6:1 We then, as workers together with Him also plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain.

One of the awesome things about being in God's Word and meditating on It and having a desire to know Him more is the way He opens things up to you more and more. Sometimes things are so powerfully impressed on us, it leaves us wondering if we ever read that section of Scripture before. Last night I read 2 Corinthians 6 from a couple different translations and this morning when I began reading it again, the first verse immediately made me think of Matthew 13. In 2 Corinthians 6:1 Paul is pleading with the reader. Any time Paul pleads, urges or begs the reader to do something it always makes me pay a little closer attention. There is just something about those words. When our kids say, “dad, I'm pleading with you, can I...” There is a passion and a sense of urgency. The difference with Paul's sense of urgency is the reality that he is talking about eternal life or death.

So, what is he pleading for in verse 1?

Paul is pleading that the Grace of God is not received in vain. If you remember the definition of vain, you know it means worthless. Is God's Grace worthless? Of course not, It is priceless! However, it is of no value to anyone who tramples on it; it is worthless for the one who discards it and continues in their own way.

If you have heard the Message of The Gospel of Jesus Christ and have not been transformed, as Paul talked about in chapter 5 (and we went into detail about yesterday); you are in danger of receiving the Grace of God in vain. Not everyone is transformed and converted immediately; however, The Word makes it clear that many will be given over to their lusts and their hearts are hardened from The Truth. That is VERY SCARY! Now is a good time to ask yourself, have I received God's Grace in vain? Have I tucked It away like jumper cables; to pull out when I need them and then discard them to the trunk again?

Why did this verse remind me of Matthew 13? Take a look. There are 5 groups of people Jesus is talking about and only 1 group is saved; however, all 5 groups have received God's Grace. 4 of the 5 have received His Grace in vain:

Parable:Matthew 13:3-8 Then He spoke many things to them in parables, saying: "Behold, a sower went out to sow.
4 And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them.
5 Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth.
6 But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away.
7 And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them.
8 But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.

Parable Explained:Matthew 13:18-23 "Therefore hear the parable of the sower:
19 When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is he who received seed by the wayside.
20 But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy;
21 yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles.
22 Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful.
23 But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty."
May God Bless you all!

If you're interested:

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Are you going to Heaven?

Jesus said in John 3:3 that unless we are born-again, born of the Spirit, we will not go to Heaven.
John 3:3 Jesus answered and said to him, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."
Paul makes the point that those that “walk” in The Spirit are not condemned:
Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.
Paul further demonstrates another “trail marker” to indicate whether we are born-again or not:
Rom 8:5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.
Paul also makes it clear that those that live according to the flesh will not inherit eternal life:
Rom 8:13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

Track through that for a minute:1)Jesus said you must be born-again, which means you need to be born of The Spirit

2)There is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus, which, on the flip side, means there is condemnation for those who are NOT in Christ Jesus

3)Those that are not in Christ Jesus, WALK in such a way that they are led by the flesh; they are led by the lusts of this world and selfish desires

4)Those that are in Christ Jesus, WALK in such a way that they are led by The Spirit; they are led by a desire to serve and please their Lord

5)What you set our mind on is an indicator of our Spiritual condition. Do you set your mind on the things of the flesh, or the things of God?

6)The condition of your heart, as indicated by the way you think and live, will determine whether you are facing eternal death or eternal life

2Corinthians 5:5 Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.

2Corinthians 5:7 For we walk by faith, not by sight.

So what is our goal:2Corinthians 5:9 Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him.
We will ALL appear before the Judgment seat of Christ!
2Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.
Side note: Who's Judgment Seat? CHRISTS! Hypothetically speaking; if it was your judgment seat, how would you respond to those that openly rejected your free gift and profaned your name?
When you are born again, you know the wrath that awaits the sons of disobedience:
Colossians 3:6 Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience,
That is what persuades us to share The Truth:
2Corinthians 5:11 Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are well known to God, and I also trust are well known in your consciences.
Last little test of the day to determine whether we are born-again. We already discussed what life looks like IN CHRIST and NOT IN CHRIST. When we are IN CHRIST, when WE ARE SAVED, we are different than we used to be. Something happens from within that gives us a new heart with new desires. We dare not say, “I've been a Christian my whole life”....until God's Spirit is given complete surrender and transforms you, you are not born-again. So, are you different?
2Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

In 1 Corinthians 5, Paul tracks through this again in a little different way, but the same points are made:
Those born-again will earnestly desire Heavenly thoughts, words and action:
2Corinthians 5:2 For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven,
God is preparing us and transforming us to stand fast in our faith in Him; and as we seen before, He has given us His Holy Spirit as a guarantee that He who has started a good work in us, will complete it:
Philippians 1:6 being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;

Friday, January 21, 2011

Who blinds the lost?

Quick revisit of 1 Corinthians 3
We are under a new Covenant
2Corinthians 3:6 who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
We are blinded to the Truth of the New Covenant until we turn to Christ:
Corinthians 3:16 Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.

When we turn to Christ and are absolutely surrendered to Him, we are transformed:

2Corinthians 3:18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.

Moving on to chapter 4:

Paul starts chapter 4 with the word "therefore"......Therefore what?

Paul just made the point that those that turn to Christ are no longer blinded from The Truth, in addition, those that turn to Christ are transformed...they are a new creation.

So....therefore what?....therefore, since you are transformed you will NOT LOSE HEART!

2Corinthians 4:1 Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart.

In addition, when we are transformed, we WILL renounce shameful things
Renounced: Disowned; denied; rejected; disclaimed.
2Corinthians 4:2a But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness

Isn't it interesting that Paul says to "renounce things of shame" yet the average pulpit will call this being judgmental.  This reminds me of the conversation I had with a Pastor the other day.  Without getting in to all the details, this ELCA Pastor was suggesting as I quoted the Word of God regarding judging a man by his fruit that I was being judge and jury.  A dear brother in Christ made this point as I told him of the conversation, "he is the one being judge and jury suggesting that people that show no sign of repentance are saved."  I thought that was a fantastic point!  This Pastor was suggesting, in more words than one, that I was being ungodly by suggesting that a person may not be saved because they don't show the fruit of repentance; but the truth is, I was quoting God's Word and he was the one that was playing judge and jury with an unbiblical proclamation of salvation toward an unrepentant sinner.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Are you a sweet fragrance to Our King

In all honest, the beginning of  chapter 2 was a little confusing.  Not in an "over your head" kind of way, but in a way that it had the feel of walking in on a conversation where you don't know what they are talking about.  It seems clear that somebody did wrong to Paul, and Paul wants them to be forgiven by the brethren.  Paul seems to indicate that we are to forgive and, of course, this is right in line with Jesus' command to forgive as your Heavenly Father has forgiven you.  But, Paul makes another point in regards to forgiveness.  Without forgiveness there is division, and with division comes the work of Satan.
2Co 2:9 For to this end I also wrote, that I might put you to the test, whether you are obedient in all things.
10 Now whom you forgive anything, I also forgive. For if indeed I have forgiven anything, I have forgiven that one for your sakes in the presence of Christ,
11 lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.

Now, on to the less confusing part.  Paul once again mentions that he is preaching The Gospel.  He doesn't mention it boastfully, he is just saying this is what I was doing, as a segway in to his point about Titus.  But. I think the application for us here is that Paul is always sharing Jesus, but The Lord opens the doors.  Notice how Paul said, I went to preach.....and then a door was opened.  Paul wasn't sitting idle waiting for The Lord to move, he moved and The Lord blessed.

2Co 2:12 Furthermore, when I came to Troas to preach Christ's gospel, and a door was opened to me by the Lord,

Do you want to be, to God, the fragrance of Christ to all people?  In other words, do you want God to say, "there is my child, he is the hands and feet of My Son, well done good and faithful servant"?
If so, serve Him!  Take a look at these next verses.  That is exactly what we are to God, the fragrance of Christ, when share Him with others...IN ALL CASES!  If it is to the person rejecting Christ, we bring to them the aroma of seems on some level they know they are condemned.  For those that get saved, we bring to them the aroma of life, because The Lord used us to bring them from death to life.  In either case, we are a sweet fragrance to Our King:

2Co 2:15 For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.
2Co 2:16 To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life. And who is sufficient for these things?

As you read these three versions notice how clear it is that GOD'S WORD IS NOT FOR SALE!  Do ministries need money to survive?  Of course.  But I don't think there is any doubt distinctions need to be made between those "peddling God for gain" and those serving their King out of sincere hearts with basic needs.

2Co 2:17
(ESV) For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God's word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ.
(KJV) For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.
(NKJV) For we are not, as so many, peddling the word of God; but as of sincerity, but as from God, we speak in the sight of God in Christ.
Lastly, The Lord gave me a Word today in regards to love that is on the heals of an interesting conversation.  I will post a video tonight on it if you would like to hear it, you can find it on my YouTube Channel, cullmanhere2......OR you can click My Latest Video at (I'll have it up around 7pm)

Call Jesus Lord

(1Cr 12:1-3 KJV) [1] Now concerning spiritual [gifts], brethren, I would not have you ignorant. [2] Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led. [3] Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and [that] no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.
(Mat 16:13-17 KJV) [13] When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? [14] And they said, Some [say that thou art] John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. [15] He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? [16] And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. [17] And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed [it] unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.
(Eph 2:1-9 KJV) [1] And you [hath he quickened], who were dead in trespasses and sins; [2] Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: [3] Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. [4] But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, [5] Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) [6] And hath raised [us] up together, and made [us] sit together in heavenly [places] in Christ Jesus: [7] That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in [his] kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. [8] For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God: [9] Not of works, lest any man should boast.
(1Cr 2:6-16 KJV) [6] Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought: [7] But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, [even] the hidden [wisdom], which God ordained before the world unto our glory: [8] Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known [it], they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. [9] But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. [10] But God hath revealed [them] unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. [11] For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. [12] Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. [13] Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. [14] But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know [them], because they are spiritually discerned. [15] But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. [16] For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.
(Gal 1:11-18 KJV) [11] But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. [12] For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught [it], but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. [13] For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews' religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it: [14] And profited in the Jews' religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers. [15] But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called [me] by his grace, [16] To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: [17] Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus. [18] Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days.
(2Cr 4:5-6 KJV) [5] For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake. [6] For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to [give] the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
(1Jo 4:1-3, 13 KJV) [1] Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. [2] Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: [3] And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that [spirit] of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. [13] Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.
(Mat 7:21-23 KJV) [21] Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. [22] Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? [23] And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Do you have The Deposit?

 You may remember that at the end of Paul's first letter to the Corinthians he expressed his desire to go to Corinth and stay with them for a while, but only if it is in God's Will.  He also encouraged the believers to receive Timothy and treat him as a brother.  With those comments being so strongly emphasized by Paul we can conclude that there was reason to believe that some wouldn't treat Timothy well. 

Now Paul, 1 year later, is writing a second letter to the Corinthian church and we know that Timothy is back with him, which brings Paul much joy, and that Paul did not make it to Corinth as he wanted.  So, whether by way of Timothy or another, Paul is now needing to address additional issues with the Corinthian church, even though many repented of there previous error as a result of Paul's first letter, there are still problems.  Paul starts this letter by establishing his authority, not as a boast, but as an assurance to his listeners that he has been called by the will of God, not of his own flesh, and they need to take heed.

2Corinthians 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the church of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints who are in all Achaia:

As I read this again tonight, I found it interesting that Paul first reminds them that we serve a God that comforts His children.  He shows mercy and comfort in ALL tribulation.  It is almost like he saying, "don't sweat what I am about to tell you because God comforted us".  In kind of a silly way, it reminds me of a kid calling his parents and saying, "I'm OK, I'm not hurt, but I got in an accident."  Because Paul is about to tell them that they faced some brutal persecution.  They faced brutality that seems to indicate they would have preferred to die; yet God comforts and delivers them.  But, God did so much more than just comfort and deliver them, He first showed them what all of us need to know also.....God showed them that they (and we) need to trust in Him for everything and trust in ourselves for nothing:

2Corinthians 1:8-10 For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life.
9 Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead,
10 who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us,

Then look what Paul says right on the heals of saying we trust only in God; he emphasizes how crucial prayer is and how thankful he is for the prayers of many:

2Corinthians 1:11 you also helping together in prayer for us, that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the gift granted to us through many.

In verse 12 Paul gives the key to our walk of faith and as we might expect, it is polar opposite of what the world will say.  The world has us running crazy, chasing our tail with debt, shackled to material items and busying ourselves with anything, as long as it is not of God.  What does Paul say:

2Corinthians 1:12 For our boasting is this: the testimony of our conscience that we conducted ourselves in the world in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom but by the grace of God, and more abundantly toward you.

Simple living and serving God with a sincere heart, not from pride or to glorify self.  This reminds me of what Paul said in the previous letter, that he doesn't get flashy in his speech, he simply preaches Christ Crucified.  Don't let the world complicate your life or your Gospel presentation....KISS method right?; Keep It Simple Stupid

My last point tonight is that Paul reminds those of us that belong to Christ that we have been given a guarantee  I liken this to a deposit on a car.  Actually this just happened in our family a couple days ago.  My father-in-law is selling his painting truck and supplies because he will not be able to work least not until God shows His glory and heals him.  A guy responded to an ad, showed up to look at the truck, made an offer and gave a deposit.  What is that deposit saying?  The deposit is a guarantee....what is it guaranteeing?  This guy left a deposit of a significant enough amount that gave confidence to my father-in-law that he would be back to give him the rest of the money and get the truck.  In the same way, God gives His children a guarantee by which we are sealed until the Day He comes to get us and bring us home.  That guarantee is His Holy Spirit!

2Corinthians 1:22 who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.

Ephesians 1:13-14 In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.

2Co 5:5 Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.

And what does God command us to do in view of this deposit guarantee of His Holy Spirit?

Ephesians 4:17-30 This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind,
18 having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart;
19 who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.
20 But you have not so learned Christ,
21 if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus:
22 that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts,
23 and be renewed in the spirit of your mind,
24 and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.
25 Therefore, putting away lying, "LET EACH ONE OF YOU SPEAK TRUTH WITH HIS NEIGHBOR," for we are members of one another.
26 "BE ANGRY, AND DO NOT SIN": do not let the sun go down on your wrath,
27 nor give place to the devil.
28 Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need.
29 Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.
30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.
32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.

'Love for Jesus' Tracked Through The Word

(Rev 2:1-4 NKJV) [1] "To the angel of the church of Ephesus write, 'These things says He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands: [2] "I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; [3] "and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name's sake and have not become weary. [4] "Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.
(Jhn 14:15-26 NKJV) [15] "If you love Me, keep My commandments. [16] "And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— [17] "the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. [18] "I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. [19] "A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also. [20] "At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. [21] "He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him." [22] Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, "Lord, how is it that You will manifest Yourself to us, and not to the world?" [23] Jesus answered and said to him, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. [24] "He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father's who sent Me. [25] "These things I have spoken to you while being present with you. [26] "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.
(Jhn 3:16-18, 36 NKJV) [16] "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. [17] "For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. [18] "He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. [36] "He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him."
(Act 2:22-23 NKJV) [22] "Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know— [23] "Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death;
(1Pe 1:18-19 NKJV) [18] knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, [19] but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.
(Eph 1:3-5 NKJV) [3] Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, [4] just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, [5] having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will,
(Gal 4:4-5 NKJV) [4] But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, [5] to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.
(Phl 3:10-11 NKJV) [10] that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, [11] if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.
(Phl 1:29-30 NKJV) [29] For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, [30] having the same conflict which you saw in me and now hear is in me.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Do you love Jesus?

As I read the final chapter of 1 Corinthians today, there are just a few bullet points that came to me as I read.

1) We are called to submit and minister, financially and otherwise, to all the saints as they are in need.  This is not optional, this is expected.  Are you giving first fruit of your labor to ministry?  Are you prayerful of what ministries you may want to support, or maybe you are you supporting your own ministry?  Are you investing in The Kingdom of God?  Giving to secular charities is one thing, but we are called to help the brethren and invest in The Kingdom.  For example, there are brothers in sisters across the globe that risk their life to get The Word of God in to the hands of those that want it, the least we can do is do what we can to help get them The Bibles they need.  I'm not preaching at anyone here, I am only saying that The Word makes it clear that we need to invest in that which rust and moth can't destroy....where and what that looks like is between you and God; ask The Lord to direct you. 

1Corinthians 16:1 Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also:

1Corinthians 16:15-16 I urge you, brethren—you know the household of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have devoted themselves to the ministry of the saints—
16 that you also submit to such, and to everyone who works and labors with us.
**I'm sure this could go without being said, but just for the record...I think it is clear that we are to help with genuine need, not "sow a seed" to those pulpit pimps.
2) I love verses 7-9!  Our big brother Paul calls on us to imitate him, and right in these 3 verses he makes it clear that he has some ideas, he has some plans, yet he is under no illusion that he does anything without confirmation, direction and Grace of God.  That needs to be our mindset too; "Your Will, Lord, nothing more, nothing less, nothing else"
1Corinthians 16:7-9 For I do not wish to see you now on the way; but I hope to stay a while with you, if the Lord permits.
8 But I will tarry in Ephesus until Pentecost.
9 For a great and effective door has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.

3) This 3rd thought is just something that struck me curious.  Typically at work I read the ESV version, then I get home and prepare my email using the New King James version.  It is interesting how the ESV basically says, be a man; but the NKJ is more descriptive....I like more detail; however, King James uses the word 'men' instead of 'brave' also....not a big deal, just made me curious because I don't know that with our culture today if someone says, "act like a man" if I would automatically assume that meant to "be brave".  Sorry for the ramble on this....the ultimate point is that we are to stand strong in the faith, we are not to waiver and we are to be steadfast and brave in the face of trial and persecution...are you ready to do that when Satan gets his way in this country?

1Corinthians 16:13

(ESV) Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.

(KJV) Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.

(NKJV) Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong.

4) The last thing I think is SO POWERFUL. It is verse 22.  Paul just writes this entire letter correcting, encouraging, teaching and inspiring love and he wraps it all up with:

1Corinthians 16:22 If anyone does not love the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be accursed. O Lord, come!


Accursed: Doomed to destruction or misery:

Do you love the Lord Jesus Christ?
1Corinthians 16:23 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

Sunday, January 16, 2011


Vain: Empty; worthless; having no substance, value or importance.

hold fast: stick to firmly

Before we jump in to 1 Corinthians 15, please stop and consider the definitions above.

Can you think of anything you own that is worthless.  Something that has no value at all, yet you don't throw it away.  It has no sentimental, emotional or monetary value at all, yet you keep it.

In verse 1, Paul addresses the reader as those having heard and received The Gospel.  They received The Gospel and stood for The Gospel, knowing it is very power to save, as we read in Romans 1:16;

Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.

But, look what word Paul includes in 1 Corinthians 15:2.  It is one of those words which we dare not ignore in Scripture.  The word is: IF!You will be saved, IF you stick firmly to that which you claim to believe, lest your belief has no substance.  Real belief will move you to be firm and resolute in your belief. 
I believe in the law of gravity, as such, I will not be moved by any pressure from others or this world to test it by stepping off a building; I will fight as hard as I can with anyone trying to throw me off a building. I believe so strongly in the law of gravity I would gouge Mike Tyson's eyes out to defend myself from him throwing me off the IDS Tower.  I will hold fast to that belief to the end.

In the same way, we should hold fast to belief we profess in Jesus Christ.  If our belief is so empty that the lures of this world will allow us to put our belief aside to enjoy the lusts of this world, then the only conclusion that can be made is that our belief is in is WORTHLESS and does not have the power to save us from eternal condemnation.

1Corinthians 15:1-2 Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand,
2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.

Let's take a look at the very foundation of that which we profess. The foundational Truths are NOT negotiable, they are essential and eternal. If you hear anyone preach anything contrary to these Truths....RUN!  There are plenty of churches out there that will deny at least one of these:

1Corinthians 15:3-4 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,
4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures,

1. Essential number one, Jesus Christ died to redeem all who believe in Him from sin and the penalty of eternal death that comes with sin.  EVERYONE needs to be redeemed from their sin and there is NOTHING you can do to earn or deserve this redemption

2. Jesus Christ died, was buried and was raised from the dead and appeared to hundred of people.  We serve the Risen Christ, not a dead Jewish carpenter

Back to our word of the day...VAIN.  God has shown you Grace if you are reading this.  You may say, "how so?"  If you are reading the Truth of His Gospel today, God has extended His Grace towards you that you may believe and that belief would not be in vain.  However, if you ignore that Grace, or you are flippant about it, you have made His provision of Grace of no substance.

1Corinthians 15:9-10 For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.

All the preaching of The Gospel of Jesus Christ is worthless if Jesus Christ has not risen.

1Corinthians 15:14 And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty.

See how crucial that piece of the puzzle is?....that is why the enemy focuses his attack on the work and deity of Jesus Christ. 

Let's bring it even closer to home, how crucial this is; if Christ is not alive you are still in your sin and will be condemned!

1Corinthians 15:17 And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!

Paul makes the point in verse 32 that if the dead do not rise we might as well eat and drink for tomorrow we die.  Obviously Paul is being sarcastic.  Paul follows that up with another of those phrases we've talked about before....DO NOT BE DECEIVED!  What is he warning us of now.....same warning....repent of your sin:

1Corinthians 15:33-34 Do not be deceived: "Evil company corrupts good habits."
34 Awake to righteousness, and do not sin; for some do not have the knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame.

Paul wraps up this chapter of INFORMATION OVERLOAD with our word of the day:

1Corinthians 15:56-58 The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law.
57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.

REAL church growth happens when done God's way

1Corinthians 14:1 Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy.

It is important to note here that the love Paul is talking about pursuing is the characteristics of love he outlined in chapter 13.  I think too many times love in the church becomes a "touchy feely" live and let live kind of love, yet part of the characteristics of true love Paul outlined in the previous chapter has not rejoicing in iniquity, but rejoicing in the Truth. 

It is also important to note here that the prophesy Paul is referring to here is not the prophetic Word from the prophets of old that spoke of the future; such as what John wrote in Revelation, etc.  Paul is referring to encouraging and building others up:

1Corinthians 14:3 But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men.

Edification:  A building up, in a moral and religious sense; instruction; improvement and progress of the mind, in knowledge, in morals, or in faith and holiness.
Exhortation: The form of words intended to incite and encourage.

Incite: To move the mind to action by persuasion or motives presented; to stir up; to rouse; to spur on.
We are to seek and desire spiritual gifts, yet we are not to desire them for our own pride, but for the edification of the Body of Christ:

1Corinthians 14:12 Even so you, since you are zealous for spiritual gifts, let it be for the edification of the church that you seek to excel.

Imagine a church building full of born-again believers that spoke in such a way to encourage and build others up in holiness and instruction.  What would it be like for an unbeliever that is visiting that church building.  Paul knew the answer to that question:

1Corinthians 14:24-25 But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or an uninformed person comes in, he is convinced by all, he is convicted by all. 25 And thus the secrets of his heart are revealed; and so, falling down on his face, he will worship God and report that God is truly among you.

On the other hand, if an unbeliever comes in to a church building and observes confusion and hypocrisy; who is that of?  It is certainly not of God:

1Corinthians 14:33 For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.

Friday, January 14, 2011

What is most important?

 When I read chapter 13 this morning I noticed 3 things right away;
1) The chapter is short
2) Paul focuses on ONE word and leaves NO DOUBT of its importance
3) Paul defines the word in depth

Let's work backwards and define the word first, and let's all take a personal inventory and see if we have any, some, or all of these characteristics.

You know how much a like to reason things through lists, so here we go:

1) Patient

2) Not enviousEnvy: To feel uneasiness, mortification or discontent, at the sight of superior excellence, reputation or happiness enjoyed by another; to repine at another's prosperity; to fret or grieve one's self at the real or supposed superiority of another, and to hate him on that account.

3) Not boastfulBoast: To brag,or vaunt one's self; to make an ostentatious display, in speech, of one's own worth, property, or actions.

4) Not arrogantArrogant: Assuming; making or having the disposition to make exorbitant claims of rank or estimation; giving one's self an undue degree of importance; haughty; conceited; applied to persons.

5) Is not rudeRude:  Rough; of coarse manners; unpolished; uncivil; clownish; rustic; as a rude countryman; rude behavior; rude treatment; a rude attack

6) Does not insist on its own way

7) Is not irritable or provoked to angerIrritable: Very susceptible of anger or passion; easily inflamed or exasperated; as an irritable temper.
Provoked: Excited; roused; incited; made angry; incensed

8) Is not resentful, thinks no evilResentful: Easily provoked to anger; of an irritable temper

9) Does not rejoice in iniquity (wrong doing)

10) Rejoices in The Truth


How did you do?....Me?....NOT VERY GOOD!  When we love like this, we love like Christ and that is our objective......."Lord, fill us with Your Spirit that we can love like this!"
1Corinthians 13:4-6 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up;
5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil;
6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;
Have you ever been around very loud, bad music such as an untalented marching band....or worse yet, have you been positioned right next to the kid with the cymbals that is slapping them together as if it were an Olympic sport?  The chaos of a terrible sounding, extremely loud band that just won't quit can drive you crazy and inevitably force us to cover our ears for a moments rest from it.

That is exactly how Paul describes others view towards us if we fail to walk out our faith in love. 
1Corinthians 13:1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.

Paul, once again, makes it clear that we are expected and commanded to grow in our faith if we belong to Christ:
1Corinthians 13:11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

When a person is born-again they abide in Jesus, they abide in their faith in Him alone for salvation, they have a hope, a joyful expectation of things to come, and they abide in that hope, and through the Spirit they abide in love.  I know a couple people that every time I talk to them I can see the love of Christ pour out of them, to see the love of Christ in someone is SO AWESOME....I can't help but walk away praying, "Lord, help me to love like that, let other people see Your love in me for Your glory."

1Corinthians 13:13 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Spiritual Gifts for today?

1Corinthians 12:1 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant:

This is the first of only 2 times in ALL of Paul's letters where he uses the phrase, "I do not want you to be ignorant".  It is interesting that even though Paul warns us not to be ignorant, this is one topic that seems to cause much division among the brethren.  Maybe not division in the way of breaking fellowship, but certainly disagreement.  I don't understand why there is disagreement reagarding spiritual gifts since Paul seems very clear in 1 Corinthians 12; and there is no indication in The Word that those gifts have been done away with.

1Co 12:4 There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.

Here's how the ESV puts it:

1Co 12:4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit;

Our spiritual gifts may be different, but the Spirit makes known our gifts, for  the the benfit of us all:

God distributes these gifts as He sees fit:

1Co 12:11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.

Let's take a look at the list Paul gives us in this chapter; but before we do, remember, unless you can demonstrate through the Word that these gifts have been done away with, they still apply today.  There are still those in the Body of Christ that have these gifts.

1) Word of  Wisdom
2) Word of Knowledge
3) Faith
4) Works of healing
5) Works of miracles
6) Prophecy
7) Discerning of spirits
8) Speaking in tongues
9) Interpretting tongues

Just as the human body has different functions, so it is with the Body of Christ. The ear is not any less a part of the body because it can't smell; obviously that is silly.  If you recognize that to be silly, it does not take much of an effort for you to recognize the silliness of someone saying, "if you don't speak in tongues you aren't saved."  That might seemed like a strange statement to some of you, but there is a group of believers out there that will make this claim.  We don't all have the spiritual gift of speaking in tongues, or prophecy or healing, etc,. but that doesn't make us any less in and of the Body of Christ; if we have surrendered our life to Him.

On the other side of the coin, there are believers that will not recognize a brother or sister's gift.  For example, many Christians will say that there is no such thing as the spiritual gift of healing.  I simply ask, chapter and verse please?  Show me, in the Word, where ANY spiritual gifts have been done away with.

Isn't it amazing how God knew what kind of division spiritual gifting would cause.  First, Paul tells us not to be ignorant; then follows up his argument about the function of The Body with verse 25.  Read it again and then read the definition of schism:

SCHISM, n. sizm. [L. schisma; Gr. to divide, L. scindo.]
1. In a general sense, division or separation; but appropriately, a division or separation in a church or denomination of christians, occasioned by diversity of opinions; breach of unity among people of the same religious faith.

It is interesting that I was studying this tonight thinking, "I want more spiritual gifts, I am going to pray for more spiritual gifts"...then I read verse 31:

1Co 12:31 But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way.

ESV states it this way:

1Co 12:31 But earnestly desire the higher gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.

Do you desire spiritual gifts?  Do you desire more spiritual gifts?  God's Word commands us to EARNESTLY DESIRE spiritual gifts!
 1Co 12:25 that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another.
1Co 12:25 that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another.
1Co 12:7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all:

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Are you imitating Paul?...We're suppose to brethren

1Corinthians 11:1 Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.

When I read the first verse it seemed strange to me that this verse wouldn't be the last verse of Chapter 10.  I know Paul didn't write his letters in chapters as we see them; however, it just makes me curious about how and when the chapters were determined.  In any case, it is still a great verse to reflect on what Paul did; after all, if Paul writing a God breathed letter to the brethren tells us to imitate him, we should know what he did.  So, let's reflect on the characteristics of Paul as outlined so far:
1. Striving to be blameless on the Day of His (Jesus') return
2. Pleads with others to obey sound doctrine
3. Preaches The Gospel and keeps it simple; Christ Crucified
4. Doesn't sugar coat things as it relates to sin and growing in Christ
5. Warns others not to be deceived by the lusts of this world and false teaching
6. Content to be a spectacle to this world for the sake of The Gospel
7. Doesn't keep company with those claiming to belong to Christ, yet are practicing sin
8. Committed to not acting in a way that might cause others to stumble
9. Disciplines his body and remains strong against temptation
10. Sexually pure
11. Does not tempt Christ
12. Does not complain
13. Committed to edifying and encouraging the brethren
By the way, as I was scrolling through the hi-lites in my Bible to compile the list above I noticed that this is the second time in this letter Paul commands the brethren to imitate him:
1 Corinthians 4:16 Therefore I urge you, imitate me
So, in view of this list, which is certainly a VERY condensed list of the first 10 chapters of 1 Corinthians; how are you doing.  Is there a few items on the list we can be lifting up in prayer and surrendering to The Lord?  When our big brother Paul commands us to imitate him, we dare not ignore his walk.  This is a list that is worth keeping at the ready for a daily review.  I will also post this on my blog if you want to reference it again:
May God put the conviction of Paul's command to imitate him on our heart and give us no peace until we surrender it all to Him

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Do you discipline your body?

I wanted to revisit 1Corinthians 9 before we head in to chapter 10.  In in the first half of chapter 9 Paul is making the point the he doesn't want to become a stumbling block for anyone.  There are those that say they belong to Christ, yet things they say and do are (knowingly or unknowingly) a stumbling block for those who are either weak in their faith or have not yet believed.  Case in point: There is a man name Harold Camping that is a self proclaimed prophet of God.  He has made the prophecy that Jesus is coming back May 11, 2011.  The problem is, first, that the Word says NOBODY knows the date or time of Jesus' return.  Just as we discussed in chapter 8, if any "voice", "vision" or "prophecy" contradicts the Word of God it is not of God.  The second problem with Harold Camping's claim is that he also made the same claim in the early 90's.  Harold Camping is either knowingly or unknowingly being used by Satan, but make no mistake, he is doing the work of the devil and creating stumbling blocks for those that are weak in the faith or are not yet believers.  He is an abomination, he is attempting to trivializing the Word of God and he is leading people astray.
Is this what Paul, who calls us to imitate him, would do?
1Corinthians 9:22-23 To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. 23 I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.

THIS IS WHERE MANY MISS THE BOAT!  I know this to be true, because I was one of them.  Too many times when people first believe they put themselves on auto-pilot.  As if to say, "well, if it's going to get done, God's gotta do it, until then I just keep rollin' with what I'm doing."  Does God make the transformation?  Yes  But, are we His co-workers? YES!  Living a life of surrender to Jesus is work, don't be lazy!
1Corinthians 9:24-27 Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.
25 And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown.
26 Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air.
27 But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.

DID YOU CATCH THAT?  He disciplines his body and brings it into subjection....that means he practices discipline so he can maintain self-control.  Why?  There are rewards in Heaven and he does NOT want to be disqualified!

Paul follows this up in chapter 10 by pointing out that God was NOT pleased with previous generations....why?

1Corinthians 10:6 Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted.

Have you ever noticed that The Word of God is loaded with points of "self-evaluation".  This is one of those.  It should also bring us back to chapter 6.  Remember in chapter 6 how Paul said, "don't be deceived".  What was the deception that would overwhelm the world?  That those that continue to live this certain way will not inherit the Kingdom of God....go back to chapter 6 if you want the whole list (v 9-10).  Paul doesn't give the list again here, but he does say, WE SHOULD NOT LUST AFTER EVIL THINGS.

LUST, n.
1. Longing desire; eagerness to possess or enjoy; as the lust of gain.

Lust is not engaging in is having your heart fixed on overwhelming desire for it.  And, of course, many times it leads to the actual act.
Then Paul gives us another little list of what they did and that we should not:


1) Become idolaters
2)Commit sexual immorality
3) Tempt Christ
4) Complain

What are we suppose to do with all of these things that happened in previous generations as recorded in The Word:

ADMONI'TION, n. Gentle reproof; counseling against a fault; instruction in duties; caution; direction.


Romans 15:4 For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.

I'll finish with this.  There is no temptation that you face that is new.  There is no temptation that you face that He does not provide a way out.  There is no temptation that you face that is too much for you to bear:

1Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.

Now look at what Paul says in the next verse:

Why did he use that word?  Of all the sin listed in 1 Corinthians so far, why did Paul zero in on idolatry?  Idolatry is putting anyone or anything and your affection for them or it ahead of God.  If you give in to the temptation to sin against Your Creator, you are making it clear that you prefer that sin over Him.  Remember what David said in Pslam 51?

Psalm 51:4 Against You, You only, have I sinned, And done this evil in Your sight— That You may be found just when You speak, And blameless when You judge.
1Corinthians 10:14 Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.
1Corinthians 10:11 Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.