Archive for August, 2017

The Common Good (I Corinthians 12)

August 15, 2017

To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.  I Corinthians 12:7

Imagine being a part of a team of people who had one goal.  Here is the goal, “the common good.”  I looked up the definition of the phrase “common good.” Here is how dictionary.com defined the word:

The advantage or benefit of all people in society or in a group: In spite of our differences, we shall work for the common good.

Question: “Do you and I work for the common good of our society?”

Before we answer the question, we need to answer a greater question.  Here is the question: “What is the one thing that would benefit everyone in our society the most?”  The answer is, Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

The church has been called, by God, to take His message to the world for their common good!!!  This is why the Devil fights every church that has the common good as their goal or objective.

The church at Corinth found herself facing this fight.  To be transparent, they were losing the fight because division, selfishness, and individuality dominated the landscape of their church.  Paul writes this chapter to combat the problem.

Paul reminds the church of the importance of the Spirits work in the common good.  The Holy Spirit has led them to their need of salvation and the Holy Spirit had imparted to each of them Spiritual Gifts that will enable them to accomplish the common good.

Two governing truths come into play:

  • God equips the church as He wills.  You and I need to embrace God’s common good purpose in our giftedness and we need to appreciate God’s common good purpose in others giftedness, Vs: 8-24.
  • God unifies the church to do His work.  The church must fight for each other instead of against each other.  The church must focus on loving each other and putting each other first.  When this happens, the common good is in focus.

This day, I feel the strong urge to pray for the many churches that have members who read this blog.  Today I pray for your staff to be united in the common good.  Today I pray for the members of your church to be united for the common good.  Today I pray for the Holy Spirits empowerment of your life to accomplish the common good.

Making headway (I Corinthians 11)

August 14, 2017

11 Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman, I Corinthians 11:11

A funny moment happened between my dad and I on the phone yesterday.  He was sharing with me about all the tell-markers who are bombarding him on his home phone.  Dad very patiently tries to listen to each call.  But yesterday he grew weary after 30 minutes with one person.  His comment to me was priceless, “Son I really don’t think I made an headway with the lady.”

When you read the first 16 verses of I Corinthians 11, it really is difficult to make any headway in understanding if you focus on what you don’t know.  The fact is we really don’t know what the angel deal is about nor do we really totally understand whether the head covering deal was literally or was it speaking of something else metaphorically.

However here are three truths that will help you to make headway in these difficult verses:

  • Christ is to be the Lord of our lives.
  • Every Christian family has a God-given leadership structure.
  • Successful marriages are those that see the mutual value of both husband and wife.

 

These three truths governing our study of the first 16 verses will bring to life God’s truth and will lead you to make headway.

Benefits (I Corinthians 9)

August 11, 2017

Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did.  I Corinthians 9:6

The job was secured and the owner was a trustworthy person.  The employee was ready to sign the contract.  But suddenly it dawned on him, what are the benefits that I receive.  To his surprise there were zero benefits that went with the job.  In the end, the man did not take the job.  The reason was obvious, “Without benefits the job was not that valuable.”

Question: “What good is an example if it has no benefit?”

Paul has completed his defense of his apostleship.  Now he dives deeper into the Corinthians problems.  They were living in spiritual idolatry.  Paul turns his attention to the nation of Israel.

Just like Corinth, Israel had every spiritual advantage, Vs:1-4.  However those advantages were of no benefit to them.  We ask “why?”  God says, “Because they were consumed with evil,” Vs:6.  We see a listing of evil things in Vs; 7-10.  Notice what we should gain (benefit):

God uses their mistakes to benefit the church!

There are 5 imperatives that we can benefit from:

  • Be diligent in following the Lord, Vs; 12
  • Be wise in following the Lord, Vs: 13
    • We do this by fleeing idolatry.
    • We do this by not compromising, Vs: 17-20.
    • We do this by not provoking God to jealously, Vs: 22
  • Seek the good of others, Vs: 23-24.
  • Live for the glory of God, Vs: 25-31.
  • Seek for all men to be saved, Vs: 32-33.

These imperatives lead us to live a life that will be of benefit to God and to others.  Oh how I pray that you and I would never waste anything we have been given by God.

The reason why (I Corinthians 9)

August 10, 2017

23 I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings. I Corinthians 9:23

It is a truth that is well-worn in saying but still without much use in our society.  Here is the saying, “Think through your actions before you engage in them.”  All of us would amen this saying, but how seldom do we live out the saying.

In I Corinthians moves from dealing with a Corinthian question to dealing with a Corinthian accusation.  Members of the church are accusing Paul of taking advantage of his position as an Apostle.  We really are not told the exact accusations, but from the dozen rhetorical questions he gives in verses 3-11 it is clear that the people are accusing him of taking money for the ministry.

Paul’s clear response makes it clear that God intends for his minister to reap fruit from their labor.  But in Paul’s case, he chose to not take any salary for his time as pastor of the church at Corinth.  Paul’s reason, “He did not want to place a stumbling block before the people.”

Question:  Do we usually think in terms of how our actions will affect others?

Paul’s goal in life (Number one reason) was for all people to be saved.  This goal led him to be disciplined in his life so he could reach the goal.  Paul focused on accountability in order that he might finish the race.

I wonder, how much differently we would be living our lives if we practiced this principle? I want to challenge you to think through each of your actions before you act.  I want to challenge you to discipline yourself to be accountable with every action and every deed.  When this happens, you will be able to win people to Jesus!

It’s all about attitude (I Corinthians 8)

August 9, 2017

Now concerning[a] food offered to idols: we know that “all of us possess knowledge.” This “knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up. I Corinthians 8:1

The church at Corinth is clearly struggling with many internal issues.  You and I are in the middle of reading about them in our readings in I Corinthians.  Today we come to a real struggle.  Here is the deal.

Some of the church members were eating food that had been offered to idols.  They believed that it was ok.  Still other members were not eating the food and they were offended by those church members who were eating the food.

The Corinthian leaders wrote to Paul with the question, “Who is right?”  The answer Paul sends is God’s answer because this is God’s Word.  In his answer we discover the heart of the matter, “It is all about attitude!”

  • The attitude of some was simply that of arrogant behavior.

These church members knew whether they ate the food or not really made no difference in their position before God.  This part was true.  But the second part is where they fell into sin.  These church members didn’t care if their eating of this food affected the weaker brother.  They were arrogant about it.

  • The attitude of other church members was centered around limited knowledge.

These church members believed they needed to stay away from such food.  Their conscience bothered them so they stayed away.

The correct attitude was of both wisdom in knowing there is one true God (Vs: 6) and in loving those around them.  Paul suggests that for the sake of the weaker brother that the church should stay away from food offered to idols.

However, Paul knew some church members would not do this because they were full of arrogance and empty of love.

I don’t know about you, but that last sentence stunk in my heart.  How often have I had this attitude in life?  This very day the Lord reminded me of the importance of loving others.  Here was my prayer to God:

“Father, I want to know You in the fullness of the Trinity. I want to love the way you love. May I never place a stumbling block in the way of my brothers and sisters.  Use me Lord to lead others into Christ’s freedom.”

May the Lord speak to your attitude today!!!

Peace (I Corinthians 7)

August 8, 2017

15 But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so. In such cases the brother or sister is not enslaved. God has called you[b] to peace. I Corinthians 7:15

Years ago I heard the silly theology of a guy who said he had discovered the fact that marriage would not exist in heaven.  He was asked, “What was his proof text?”  He responded, “I Corinthians 7:15.”  The person who asked the question was surprised at the proof text.  The silly guy went on to explain his why.  Here is what he said, “There will be no marriage in heaven because God promised peace in heaven.”

Yes, it is true, marriage can often become a place of war instead of peace.

In I Corinthians 7 Paul is responded to the Corinthians questions concerning marriage, singleness, divorce, and remarriage.  In each case Paul declares the reality of peace that can come to the marriage.

For our time I will just focus on the first two:

  • Peace comes to a marriage when both husband and wife are submitted to God’s design, Vs: 1-5.

The fact is sin robs the marriage.  When sin exists in the marriage both parties are fighting for control of the other person.  Sex becomes a tool of control.  When sin exists in the marriage often there is a wandering eye that seeks forbidden fruit.  Only when God is Lord of the marriage will there be peace.

  • Peace comes to a single person when the person lives his or her life for the purposes of God, Vs: 17, 25-37.

God has called some people to live a life of singleness.  This person is free from the anxieties of marriage.  He or she can give themselves totally to the work of Christ.  Peace comes as the person is fulfilled in what God has placed before them.  This person knows God is the love of their lives.

Question: “Is there peace in your life today?”

Peace is impossible apart from the “Prince of Peace.”  Who is this “Prince of Peace?”  His name is Jesus.  This is where peace begins.  Take time to investigate the following passages of Scripture:

John 16:33
These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
John 14…
Take time to read these passages and then take the time to connect with the Prince of Peace.

Now that I am saved (I Corinthians 6)

August 7, 2017

19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.  I Corinthians 6:19-20

It seems that for some people, the moment of  salvation is the high point in their Christian lives.  Somehow this seems extremely sad when we consider the greatness of what true salvation really is.

Before us in I Corinthians 6 is amazing truth concerning the lives of those who are now “in Christ.”

To be in context, Paul is continuing to deal with individual sins in the church at Corinth as he did in chapter 5.  The sin is one that we may consider small.  But any sin is rebellion against God.  The people in Corinth were bypassing their Christian duty to mediate in the affairs of the brothers and sisters in the church.  Brother was fining lawsuits against brother in the courts in Corinth.  Paul writes, “is there not anyone mature enough to mediate the problem.”

Paul suggests that it might be possible that some of these people were not even genuine believers.  Genuine believers are changed by God.  Notice the previous sentence once again.  Those who come to Christ find a joy that changes them.  Each day is a day of growth and each day should be a day of working out what God has worked in.

Here is how Paul describes this in this chapter:

11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

What did God do for us in salvation?
  • God cleansed us from our sin.
  • God set us on a new course in life.
  • God declares us right with the Father through Jesus justification.

What are we to now do?

We are called by God to give our lives to growing in our faith.  This begins with realizing that our body, soul, and spirit has a new purpose.  This purpose is to glorify God through our lives.

For me, this has made the journey of faith a daily higher and higher and higher experience than the day of my salvation.  Brother and sister our greatest day of faith is still to come.  It will be the day we see Jesus face to face!!!

I can’t wait!

Accountability 101 (I Corinthians 5)

August 4, 2017

 13 God judges[c] those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.” I Corinthians 5:13

No one wanted to talk about it, but it had to be.  Someone in the group asked, “Why do we have to confront this?”  The answer was simply and effective, “God’s Word says we have to confront this.  You ask, “what are you talking about?” Read the next paragraph:

It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife. And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you.

Question:  “Was the above a shock to your system?”

For me, the sin was not a shock, but the lack of concern from the church was a shock.  It is the same way in my heart today as I think about the many unchecked lifestyles that occupy seats in our worship centers each week.

Someone could ask, “I thought we want sinners to come to church.”  This is exactly true.  But when they come we should for the sake of love to confront the sin with the wonderful news of the gospel.   We hold people accountable for three reasons:

  • For the sake of the purity of the fellowship.
  • For the person’s soul and witness.
  • For the sake of the Lost and Dying World that Needs Jesus!!!

When we follow Paul’s teaching we discover the awesome benefit of accountability.

In this moment we would be wise to ask, “What happened when the people received this accountability letter from Paul?”  Check out II Corinthians 7:7-10

 

and not only by his coming but also by the comfort with which he was comforted by you, as he told us of your longing, your mourning, your zeal for me, so that I rejoiced still more. For even if I made you grieve with my letter, I do not regret it—though I did regret it, for I see that that letter grieved you, though only for a while.As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us.

10 For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.

God’s Accountability wins every time!!!!!

 

A Full Disclosure (I Corinthians 4)

August 3, 2017

Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God. I Corinthians 4:5

“Father, I so desperately need the truth of Your Word today. My heart thinks it really knows the facts and my heart really thinks I am innocent of all charges.  But I know your Word teaches me to be on guard against my heart (Jeremiah 17:9).  Sometimes my heart deceives me.  Father, I place my heart before you in prayer and I place my heart before your word for examination (Hebrews 4:12).  You alone are qualified to make a full disclosure in my heart. I receive it today in Jesus name.”

Admittedly this was my prayer to the Lord this very day as I began my day.

We live in a day where it seems the political scenes are filled with email disclosures and wild accusations against the opposing parties.  In Paul’s day there were naturally no emails or websites to be hacked into.  But one thing is for sure Paul was being judged and condemned by the media of his peers.  Paul wisely pushed back with truth:

Paul defends the ministry:  God has called him to be a slave of Christ who is a steward of the gospel.  This call has led him to have a standard of ministry that is trustworthy.

However, Paul is also wise in ministry:  He has searched his own heart and cannot find any reason for alarm.  But he ultimately knows God will judge the secret intentions of His heart.

Maybe you are facing a moment when full disclosure is needed.  But it does not seem to be possible.  Let me suggest to you that you lay it down knowing that the righteous judge of the earth is coming who will make a full disclosure!!!  I rest in this today.

Behaving in a human way (I Corinthians 3)

August 2, 2017

For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not being merely human? I Corinthians 3:4

A recently new and up and coming mega church pastor said these words on a national broadcast: “Let’s just admit it, we are only human.”  He went on to say, “God understands because this is who we are.”

Question: “How does Paul’s writings in I Corinthians 3 line up with this man’s viewpoint?”

Lets consider the context:  Paul is facing a moment where the church is behaving in a human way.  He wants to instruct them as mature believers, but he cannot because they are infants in their faith.

Infants in faith have two distinguishing characteristics in chapter 3:

  • They live on spiritual milk and not solid food.  Peter writes about this in I Peter 2:2.
  • They live with fleshly views described as jealously and strife.

Because of this infancy, division rules the day in the church at Corinth, Vs: 5-10.  However, Paul points the church to another way.  That way is called, “maturing in Christ.”

People who are maturing in Christ will build their lives on the foundation of Christ.  Here is how they build:

  • The focus is on building with a Gold standard of the Word of God.
  • The focus is on building with the silver of the filling of the Holy Spirit.
  • The focus is on building with the precious metals of serving in Kingdom Life.

Such people discover the fallacy of the young pastors words.  God does not want us to behave only in human ways.  He has given us a new way.  A way of life that is founded on the rock of Jesus.  A way that is Spirit directed, Word based, and service oriented.

This way finds reward with God. This way finds joy in everyday life.

I pray you and I will live this day void of the human way and filled with the God way!!!