s there such thing as a carnal Christian? Paul brings this question in 1Corinthians 3. I’m in no position to render an answer to that but the thought I draw from this is that it’s more a question of wisdom. Paul addresses the Corinthians as “babes in Christ”. If this is true then Yes, Paul considers them to be Christians. In using the word ‘babes” and the phraseology surrounding it, he also seems to say they have much to learn. To that I would say “don’t we all”!
I’ve recently read a few articles/ Facebook posts about some pretty hot topics as they relate to Christians. One subject in particular seems to be a religious volleyball, the LGBT community. This is NOT a cut and dried topic. As Christians we must view this lifestyle as a sin, if not we might as well just shut down the whole operation. Keeping this in mind, above all else, we must still love our neighbor.
In applying the question of wisdom who is the wiser? The LGBT individual that has a heart for Jesus or the Christians who “secretly sin” but hold proverbial stones ready to throw? I guess the answer is none of the above …… as both still choose to sin. The only litmus test for Christians that I know of is, are you growing closer to Christ or do you continue to deny the grace and healing he offers? Is your wisdom born of him or what the world is wanting you to believe. That was Paul’s point then and it remains for us to answer to today. 1 Corinthians 3:1 – But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ.
And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, ~ 1 Corinthians 2:3
These words were spoken by Paul, one of God’s most faithful servants, a man who is responsible for spreading the message of Jesus throughout the world, yet here he proclaims fear in testifying God’s word.
I have been witness to many people that I know have a heart for God as well as a story to tell but yet don’t feel equipped to do so. This could be something as simple as praying in front of others but yet they don’t do it out of fear they aren’t qualified and/or might say the wrong thing.
Back to Paul who was more than qualified to speak and debate any topic of his day. He was an educated Roman citizen and a studied Jewish man but he purposely put the wisdom of man aside to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus. In doing so he allowed the Holy Spirit to work through him to reach others.
We are always at our best when we rely on God to work through us. When we use our logic and our ways, his message can become distorted. When we put ourselves in a position of reliance on Him, rather than ourselves, his message always comes to light. If today you doubt you’re qualifications to speak to the gift salvation you have experienced, then I say congratulations you have all you need to begin sharing it with others, in Him!
1 Corinthians 2:2 – For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.
As Paul concluded his letter to the Romans he mentions by name those in Rome that have been an integral part of the Church there. He thanks them for their service and sacrifice to spread the gospel, asking that these people are given the respect their contributions deserve. However there was one name he mentions in a different vein. Romans 16:10b- Greet those who belong to the family of Aristobulus. Why doesn’t it read, “Greet Aristobulus and his family”? The thought here is that Aristobulus was not a believer but his family was. Since he was the head of the house he is named but only for the purpose of identification, not in the reverence that the other names were mentioned.
Unfortunately this is a scenario that we see far too often in the church today. Mothers and children attend church while fathers choose not to. We wonder why the church, nay this country, isn’t as strong as it once was and it’s staring us right in the face. Men are not leading their families in the way that God has called us to.
Ephesians 5:25 – Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,
Ephesians 6:4 – Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
Every once in a while men need a good gut check, so here goes. Are you leading your family as you have been called to? Do you stay at home while the rest of your family is seeking a relationship with Christ. Regardless of how you see it each and everyday you are setting an example for your family. Don’t be a “do as I say, not as I do” leader. Be a man that sets the bar for your family to follow.
1 Peter 5:3 – Not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.
There are many references to the Shepherd Sheep relationship in the Bible. A good shepherd knows his flock intimately and with a simple call they will follow him. Think how much easier it is for both when the shepherd doesn’t have to heard the sheep. I happened upon a story about a shepherd during WWl. Some German soldiers came in and stole quite a few of his flock so they could eat. Being just one man he couldn’t very well take them back by force, however, he waited until nightfall and called them as he had done many times before. They recognized the call and on their own accord returned to the shepherd.
We too are easily led astray. There are so many things that can distract us from following Jesus. However, if we make an effort to know him we can trust that he will always call us back home.
John 10:3 – To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.
Last week our Life Group began an Andy Stanley series titled, Time of Your Life. We only watched the first 20 minutes or so but it was very clear to me where he was heading. His discussion involved our physical time here on earth and how short it really is. This is something I had already been thinking about as, 1) I’m a procrastinator 2) lately I have literally been wasting a lot of time watching TV. I have stuff that I know needs to be done but once that TV goes on there goes my evening.
Jesus knew that his time on earth was going to be short. While not specific, he referenced this to his disciples on more than a handful of occasions. He valued the time he had on earth and as his ministry grew he set about doing the work of his father as often as he could. He testified that this too should be the work of his disciples. He made time for those who needed him and or wanted to know him. He stopped to heal countless people, he paused to receive children and he often inconvenienced himself to see that others would come to know the Father. He saw every opportunity as it was his last.
We lead tremendously busy lives. There is so much to do, much of it necessary and worthy, but are we so busy that we’re neglecting the only work that really matters? Helping our fellow man. In our fast paced what about me world make some time to explore and experience time well spent in serving those in need. Every opportunity that we let slip by could be our last.
John 9:4 We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work.
A few evenings ago I attended a Hillsong United concert. As we were waiting to enter I was surprised to see an “evangelist” reading from the Bible and “preaching” over a loud speaker. He was vehemently condemning Hillsong and all who were entering saying that Hillsong Church is a false prophet of sorts. My first thought was there are a lot of other places he good be doing this other than a Christian concert. He was literally preaching to the choir.
During the concert Joel Houston who leads the group gave a few mini sermons. One had to do with his journey in getting to know Jesus. He mentioned that he is learning that it is not our duty to condemn others. That for the most part we are equal in our sin and without Jesus we are all condemned to die.
How can we ever expect to coerce/guilt others into a realationship with Jesus? My firm belief is that if you truly attempt to know him, that journey will demonstrate his love each and every day. In time, we learn to share that love, even in the most difficult of circumstances. Jesus’ ministry leveled the playing field, it continues to do that today. It matters not who you are or what you’ve done, know that Jesus loves you so very much. In doing so, he who himself did not condemn, only asks that you to return that love to others. John 8:7 And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”
I’ve often wondered why those who say they don’t believe, tend to speak more about Jesus than some who do. To say we don’t believe intimates that whatever we profess to disbelieve has no bearing on our life. So why berate something that has no bearing on your life?
I have no answer here, no great revelation but I propose the theory that these reactions come from their fear of change. As Jesus gained popularity during his ministry the religious rulers disdain for him also grew. The evidence of his divinity was there, they chose not to see it as it threatened their standing.
Perhaps this is why some choose to not believe today. They know in their hearts that if they believed, their standing (the way they live their lives) would be threatened, they would have to change. The saying goes “its always darkest before the dawn”, maybe this applies to a disbeliever you know. Be mindful of those who seem to detest your faith. You may just be there when the “Son” rises on their life.
John 7:32 The Pharisees heard the crowd muttering these things about him, and the chief priests and Pharisees sent officers to arrest him.
Jesus has no shortage of titles, Son of Man, Rabbi, Savior, Lamb of God and so on. They each refer to the same man but lend to a different trait. After Jesus had fed the 5000 he departed to the other side of the sea. The next day the masses he fed looked to find him again. Unfortunately they searched for the wrong reason. They sought him for what he did, not for who he was, The Light of the World.
There’s no question as to what Jesus can do for us, some of which can be filling physical needs. In fact today certain churches are known for preaching the prosperity doctrine. Meaning if I do this, this and this Jesus is gonna “BLE$$” me. In His encounter with these people, they asked for manna such as that which sustained Israel as they fled Egypt. Jesus replied that the Bread of Life that he represents will offer lasting sustenance. It’s something we can’t always put our finger on, but when we are connected to Jesus in the way he intends, we are fulfilled immeasurably more than we could ever hope for. Which Jesus do you seek to sustain you? John 6:27 Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.”
“Do you want to be healed?” Imagine being asked this question by Jesus. I’m pretty sure the response, “Duh!” wasn’t part of the vocabulary back when he posed the question to the lame man in John 5. However, based on the circumstance the question was legitimate. Here we have a crippled man who sat by the healing pool at Bethesda for many years, but never entered. Why not? In his commentary on this event David Guzick writes, “It is reasonable to wonder if this man really wanted to be healed. One commentator points out: “An eastern beggar often loses a good living by being cured of his disease.””
Last fall I left my job of over 15 years. I hadn’t been happy there for at least the last 3 but because I was comfortable in my “misery” I continued on. It finally came to a point where God made it clear that I had no choice. It’s funny how we let our minds paralyze possible actions. We are more afraid of the unknown than the pain we feel in our present circumstance, so we choose the status quo. As I look back I can only assume that I failed to sincerely seek God’s council because of the fear of change.
What is it that you need healing from? Like me, are you comfortable in your misery? Know that Jesus is always there. All we need do is call on his name, seek council of the Holy Spirit and have faith that God will bring us through it. This is obviously an easier said than done topic but take it from a guy who learned the hard way. If your heart is telling you something, pay attention and trust Jesus to heal your situation.
John 5:6 When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?”
The encounter Jesus had with a Samaritan women at the well is widely known. This somewhat brief encounter led to many others in her village coming to know him. John 4:42 They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.”
If it not been for Jesus once again breaking from “tradition”, none of the people would have known him. Had Jesus allowed the social stigma of the day to prevail he and the woman would have never even met eyes, much less spoken to one another. The way in which he addressed and spoke to her made all the difference in the world.
How do you let today’s social stigmas influence how you address others, if at all? The divisiveness in our world seems to be at an all time high; Christians vs Muslims, White vs Black, Left vs Right and so on. The truth is we are ALL children of God. In this and many other encounters that is what Jesus saw. If we could only learn to see what he sees and act accordingly, countless others would come to know his love. John 4:9 (ESV) The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?”