Saturday, September 16, 2006

1 Corinthians 10:1 - 6 (TMSG) 1. Remember our history, friends, and be warned. All our ancestors were led by the providential Cloud and taken miraculously through the Sea. 2. They went through the waters, in a baptism like ours, as Moses led them from enslaving death to salvation life. 3. They all ate 4. and drank identical food and drink, meals provided daily by God. They drank from the Rock, God’s fountain for them that stayed with them wherever they were. And the Rock was Christ. 5. But just experiencing God’s wonder and grace didn’t seem to mean much—most of them were defeated by temptation during the hard times in the desert, and God was not pleased. 6. The same thing could happen to us. We must be on guard so that we never get caught up in wanting our own way as they did.

Paul says, “our history…” The church at Corinth was not made up solely of Jews but He is pointing out the heritage of all Christians is from the Jews. They were, and are, God’s chosen people. God has allowed us non-Jewish people to come to Him through Jesus Christ – PRAISE the LORD!

So, Paul is telling us to learn from their mistakes. If after delivering His people out of Egypt and miraculously providing food and water in the desert He was displeased with them and caused many to die, will He not do the same to them who turn their backs on Him and choose their own way instead of His?

The lesson is for individuals and churches alike. If a church (local body of believers) gets caught up in wanting their own way instead of God’s it will suffer consequences.

We talked last night about how so many times churches come up with man made rules, often with good intentions, but none-the-less man made rules and try to insist that they be followed or else “you’re not a Christian.” Do you think God is pleased with that? Of course not! He wants everyone, every body of believers to look ONLY to HIS WORD for instruction and guidance. We’re not supposed to add anything to His Word.

So, as each of us goes about our day, let us “be on guard so that we never get caught up in wanting our own way as they did.” And let us instead truly desire His way in our lives and foster, with love, His way in the lives of other believers.


Friday, September 15, 2006

1 Corinthians 9:24 - 27 (NASB) 24. Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. 25. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26. Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; 27. but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.

1 Corinthians 9:24 - 27 (TMSG) 24. You’ve all been to the stadium and seen the athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win. 25. All good athletes train hard. They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You’re after one that’s gold eternally. 26. I don’t know about you, but I’m running hard for the finish line. I’m giving it everything I’ve got. No sloppy living for me! 27. I’m staying alert and in top condition. I’m not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself.

Do you want to miss out on going to heaven?

Matthew 7:21 - 23 (NASB) 21. “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 22. “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23. “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’

We can be full of the knowledge of HOW to get to heaven.
We can TELL other people how to get to heaven.

But if you don’t know Jesus Christ personally…and love Him with all of your heart to the point of obedience to Him…you will NOT get to heaven. The people Jesus is referring to in the passage from Matthew did things that “looked” like they were for Jesus but in reality they were “practicing” a lifestyle contrary to what Jesus preached.

He doesn’t want us to merely look like Him when we’re in public or talking to other Christians. He wants our hearts to be changed. He wants us to listen to Him through His Word and to obey Him.

John 14:15 (NASB)
“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.

If you’ll notice, Paul points out that “only one wins” the race (v. 24). We are NOT in competition with each other (so don’t act that way church!). The race of life has already been run for us, for you, by Jesus Christ. He is the Victor.

The race we’re “running” is against ourselves and our old nature. Do you want to make sure you cross the finish line with Jesus? Stay close by His side, listening to His every Word, and doing the best you can to follow what He says. Then you won’t “get caught napping” and miss out on the prize of being with Him forever.

When we all get to heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be.
When we all see Jesus, we’ll sing and shout the victory!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

1 Corinthians 9:19 - 23 (KJV) 19. For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more. 20. And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; 21. To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. 22. To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. 23. And this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you.

1 Corinthians 9:19 - 23 (TMSG) 19. Even though I am free of the demands and expectations of everyone, I have voluntarily become a servant to any and all in order to reach a wide range of people: 20. religious, nonreligious, 21. meticulous moralists, loose-living immoralists, 22. the defeated, the demoralized—whoever. I didn’t take on their way of life. I kept my bearings in Christ—but I entered their world and tried to experience things from their point of view. I’ve become just about every sort of servant there is in my attempts to lead those I meet into a God-saved life. 23. I did all this because of the Message. I didn’t just want to talk about it; I wanted to be in on it!

I have “made” myself servant unto all, Paul says. He doesn’t say that when he became a Christian, “poof” he was a servant to all, or felt like a servant to all. It took a decision, commitment and follow-through to be a servant to all.

Christ died for all. Remember, “God so loved the world…” not just “some.” It is only logical and right then for the body of Christ to be a “servant to all.”

Paul goes through a list which Eugene Peterson puts marvelously in the Message (vs. 20-22), but “all” really means ALL:
The drug addicts
The drunks
The prostitutes
The prisoners
The homeless

And the list goes on and on and on…

We in the church today can barely be servants to people who like different music than we do or dress differently than we do. We need to set aside any personal likes and dislikes and realize that God loves EVERYONE. And we have been called to be servants of EVERYONE. We are to show them the love of God, not our up-turned nose or backs as we walk away! We ARE the Body of Christ.

1 Corinthians 9:22 - 23 (NLT) 22. When I am with those who are weak, I share their weakness, for I want to bring the weak to Christ. Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to save some. 23. I do everything to spread the Good News and share in its blessings.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Ephesians 5:18 - 21 (NASB) 18. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, 19. speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; 20. always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; 21. and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.

Forgive me for yet another diversion from our look at the church in 1 Corinthians, but I must go down the road God points out. For the last couple of days He has been leading me down the road of thanksgiving.

Yes, I know, it’s not November yet, so what’s the hurry! But our thanks to God is not to be a once a year thing. The passage from Ephesians says “always” giving thanks. Not only that but it tells us to be thankful for “all things.” Can we or should we do any less?

Colossians 3:15 (NASB)
15. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.

As many of you know this has been a trying year in some respects. My wife, Sharon, was diagnosed with cancer and is in the middle of chemotherapy. She’s doing well thanks to God. I had a biopsy which, thanks to God, turned out negative. A very close friend of ours lost her mother to cancer and, thanks to God, she was a Christian. God decided to change the direction of our ministry and we moved my mother-in-law into a house on our property, etc. etc. etc. And, thanks to God, all things are working together for good!

God has continued to be faithful (He can do nothing else!). And, despite any of those things, even if we had nothing else to be thankful for (which we do!), we have eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord!

I was walking in the early morning hours a couple of days ago and witnessed the beauty of the sun as it began to poke its head above the horizon. I was blessed to see God paint the sky with a myriad of colors and with incredible “brush strokes” and textures. I looked at the trees that we had planted several years ago and, as if for the first time, realized how blessed I was to have witnessed their growth and beauty. God has placed me in an incredible place and it seems that I had been too busy to thank Him for it for all too long.

1 Thessalonians 5:16 - 18 (NASB) 16. Rejoice always; 17pray without ceasing; 18in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Perhaps you have let struggles and concerns get in the way, or the busyness of school or your job. Take the time to look around today (and from now on!) and thank God for the little things.

Maybe it’s the incredible school that He has allowed you to attend or the way He has provided the financing. Perhaps it’s the friends that He has surrounded you with or the fellowship of believers that He has placed around you. Perhaps it’s that He allowed you to get out of bed for one more day.

I know that if you look, you will find endless lists of things for which to thank Him. And, most of all, you can thank Him for forgiving you of your sins and reconciling you to Himself through His Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Hebrews 13:15 (NASB) 15. Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.


Tuesday, September 12, 2006

1 Corinthians 9:16 (NASB) 16. For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for I am under compulsion; for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel.

Is this not the mission of the church to the world in a nut shell? We, the body of Christ, are to preach the gospel; the good news that Jesus Christ died for our sins that we might have peace with God and live with Him forever.

Paul said “I am under compulsion.” I have to do it. That’s why God saved me…to tell others and show others the way.

Are you part of that mission? Do you feel compelled to tell the world the Good News about Jesus Christ? Is the body of believers that you are associated with actively telling the lost of this world the Good News of Jesus Christ? “Woe” to us all if we are not!

Mark 8:38 (NASB)
38. “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”

Monday, September 11, 2006

1 Corinthians 9:1 - 15 (NASB) 1. Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are you not my work in the Lord? 2. If to others I am not an apostle, at least I am to you; for you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord. 3. My defense to those who examine me is this: 4. Do we not have a right to eat and drink? 5. Do we not have a right to take along a believing wife, even as the rest of the apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas? 6. Or do only Barnabas and I not have a right to refrain from working? 7. Who at any time serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat the fruit of it? Or who tends a flock and does not use the milk of the flock? 8. I am not speaking these things according to human judgment, am I? Or does not the Law also say these things? 9. For it is written in the Law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing.” God is not concerned about oxen, is He? 10. Or is He speaking altogether for our sake? Yes, for our sake it was written, because the plowman ought to plow in hope, and the thresher to thresh in hope of sharing the crops. 11. If we sowed spiritual things in you, is it too much if we reap material things from you? 12. If others share the right over you, do we not more? Nevertheless, we did not use this right, but we endure all things so that we will cause no hindrance to the gospel of Christ. 13. Do you not know that those who perform sacred services eat the food of the temple, and those who attend regularly to the altar have their share from the altar? 14. So also the Lord directed those who proclaim the gospel to get their living from the gospel. 15. But I have used none of these things. And I am not writing these things so that it will be done so in my case; for it would be better for me to die than have any man make my boast an empty one.

Paul had been talking in Chapter 8 about the freedoms that we have as Christians. There he pointed out that we could even eat meat that was sacrificed to idols, since we know that idols are only lifeless statues. But his caution to us is not to abuse those freedoms. Verse 9 of chapter 8 sums up his caution:

But you must be careful so that your freedom does not cause others with a weaker conscience to stumble

In this passage from chapter 9 he is pointing out that even the leaders (himself) are bound by this principle. He and the other leaders of the church have freedoms but should be equally, if not more so, cautious about exercising those freedoms so that the gospel of Jesus Christ might not be hindered in any way.

What freedoms do you feel you have the “right” to exercise? Perhaps it is the freedom to have a drink of wine in public? After all, the bible only says not to drink to “excess.” But SHOULD you exercise that freedom if it might cause someone else to stumble?

A local church might exercise their freedom to worship only by singing certain songs from a certain book. Or, they might feel they have the freedom to tell other people what kind of clothes they should wear (women-skirt or dress; men-pants; and of course no black!). The problem is, if these “freedoms” cause others to stay away from their church, are they not being a stumbling block to these Christians? And, perhaps stumbling blocks to those who God is calling to be His?

Paul says in verse 22b of chapter 9,

“I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some.

We need to be careful in the church not to set up exclusive “clubs” or “clicks” where others do not feel welcome. After all, the church is called to unity and love.

The Word of God is and should be our only guide for living, as individuals and as the body of Christ.

1 Corinthians 13:13 (NLT) Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Psalms 51:1 - 17 (NLT)

1. Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love. Because of your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins.
2. Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin.
3. For I recognize my rebellion; it haunts me day and night.
4. Against you, and you alone, have I sinned; I have done what is evil in your sight. You will be proved right in what you say, and your judgment against me is just.
5. For I was born a sinner—yes, from the moment my mother conceived me.
6. But you desire honesty from the womb, teaching me wisdom even there.
7. Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
8. Oh, give me back my joy again; you have broken me—now let me rejoice.
9. Don’t keep looking at my sins. Remove the stain of my guilt.
10. Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me.
11. Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me.
12. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you.
13. Then I will teach your ways to rebels, and they will return to you.
14. Forgive me for shedding blood, O God who saves; then I will joyfully sing of your forgiveness.
15. Unseal my lips, O Lord, that my mouth may praise you.
16. You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one. You do not want a burnt offering.
17. The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.

We’ve been talking for some time now in our weekly bible study about how drugs and the occult are such a problem here in the Sulphur Springs Valley (all over the country really). We’ve been praying for God to show His mighty power and eliminate these strongholds of satan in our midst.

One of the things we’ve been praying for is that the churches would be concerned about this; that all of those who call themselves Christians would unite in prayer and usher in the victory that God so wants to shower upon His people. Could it be that this Psalm should not only be our prayer as individuals, but corporately, as the prayer of our churches?

2 Chronicles 7:14 (KJV) 14. If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

Have a blessed day.