As Paul concludes his first letter to the Corinthian church he attends to some business, giving them instructions and when they might expect him. He also reminds them of their responsibilities but more importantly the way in which they should carry them out.
I’ve just returned from another visit with my brothers and sisters in the Dominican Republic, where there are some treasures to be found. The fruit over there is so much more vibrant. The Mangos are indescribably juicy and the Pineapple has a crispy taste that I’ve never experienced here. I enjoy a smoothie there made from Zapote which is best described as a cross between a Mango and a Strawberry. The coffee is over the top awesome! Strong but smooth and served with an equal amount of milk, it is a true national treasure. I could go on and on about the food we were served but it was the manner in which it was served that really stays with me.
Love is something they treasure. You see it in what they do for one another and you experience it in how they serve you. From what I’ve seen over the last four years they overlook petty differences for the greater good. They depend on and in turn, serve their neighbors. The local churches see a need in their community and they go meet it. They do this all not expecting anything in return. I always come back refreshed and with a different outlook for my world. I pray that God would instill that in our hearts. In word and action, we would above all else LOVE. 1 Corinthians 16:14 – Let all that you do be done in love.
Does one bad apple really spoil the whole bunch? This is used as a metaphor in speaking about how a person of bad character can corrupt otherwise good people. However, scientifically it is a true statement. Plants located adjacent to others that have a disease or infestation of pests stand a good chance of succumbing as well. An over ripe piece of fruit produces a greater amount of ethylene gas which acts to accelerate the ripening of the fruit around it. If the actual statement is true what about the metaphoric comparison?
We are affected by everything around us. If we expose our selves to good things and good people there’s a fair chance we’ll be the same. Conversely, if we are exposed to things and people that conduct themselves in a iniquitous manner we’re apt to begin acting the same. This is a very simple concept yet we continually try to circumvent this system. It’s our choice, so we shouldn’t be surprised by the out come. Someone once said, show me your friends and I’ll show you your future. Recently I’ve also heard show me your Google browsing history and I’ll show you your character. Lastly, show me your check book and I’ll show you where your heart lies. While that last one may be a tad outdated they all point to the same place …….. 1 Corinthians 15:33 – Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.”
I’d like to think that I am a fairly smart guy. Going back to my school years I made decent grades but I could have done better. One of the areas I struggled with was math. I know the reason is that I had no desire to learn or sometimes even listen to what was being taught. I saw no benefit in learning it. So I guess I fit into the, “you can lead a horse to water ……” Category. If our hearts aren’t in something the likelihood of fully grasping it is pretty slim.
As Paul continued his ministry into Corinth, like all cities he entered, he went to the synagogue to bring the message of Jesus. He was once again met with resistance from the Jewish contingency. They had chased him from 3 other cities and this must of been his proverbial last straw. From that point forward he didn’t refuse Jews but since their hearts were not open to the message of Jesus, he turned his focus to converting Gentiles.
In our own journey to bring the message of Jesus to friends, family and stranger alike, it is God who prepares hearts. Deliverance begins with desire. You will never argue your way to conveying the message of Jesus to another. You can’t debate salvation to it’s fruition. You can be aware of the message you send to others by your own actions. We should never have to force the issue of salvation. When the time is right for an opportunity to share Jesus, rest assured God will present it. Acts 18:5 – When Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia, Paul was occupied with the word, testifying to the Jews that the Christ was Jesus.
One perceived stigma of being a Christian is doubt. I say perceived because I truly don’t think you’re being honest with yourself if you say you’ve never doubted. However, that’s another devotional …….. Today we face an ever growing opposition to the Message of Jesus. There are days that I think I’m in Bizzaro world, up is down, left is right, right is wrong and so on. Discouraging to say the least, right? WRONG!!!
As Paul and Silas continued their mission they entered and preached the Message of Jesus in Thessalonica. They reached many Greeks and Jews, so much that some of the leaders gathered a mob to chase them from the city. When they could not find Paul and Silas they instead brought forth some of the people they befriended to receive punishment. Their activity drew more than attention from those who chose not to believe.
The opposition we face is much the same. If the Message of Jesus was without substance why would anyone waste their time to oppose it? If didn’t matter, why are there countless groups that work everyday to dissuade others from believing? The simple answer is something we already know. God is! Jesus, his son came to die for our sins on the cross. The Holy Spirit exists to equip us in this life. Yes, it’s all true! So if today you doubt, know that’s just part of your growth in Christ. Then look to the opposition and smile, as he came to die for them as well. Acts 17:6 And when they could not find them, they dragged Jason and some of the brothers before the city authorities, shouting, “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also,
How many times have your plans been derailed? If you’re like me, more than I can count. How many times has that set of circumstances turned out for the better?
As Paul continued his ministry he became acquainted with Timothy and ask that he join him. Paul had planned to continue west into Asia Minor but was forbidden by the Holy Spirit to go there. However, he was equally prompted to go into Macedonia and continue his ministry there. The scriptures tell of two notable conversions on this journey. One of a girl named Lydia, whom God had already prepared her heart for accepting Jesus. The other a guard who was watching over Paul and Timothy after they were put in prison. His conversion was much different as he had to be dramatically introduced to the power of God. God had bigger plans for Paul and Timothy as both of these encounters worked to change many other lives.
This chapter demonstrates how little control we really have in our life. God continually orchestrates our paths and their intersection with others. The missionary David Livingstone summarized the spirit of Paul when he said, “I am prepared to go anywhere, so long as it is forward.” We should adopt this spirit as it truly is a statement of trust in God’s plan for our lives. So the next time your plans change for a seemingly inexplicable reason be encouraged and excited, for it is God working in your life.
Acts 16:6 – And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia.
A few years back I was at a business conference and the buzz phrase that came out of this meeting was, “paradigm shift”. It’s one of those fancy white collar terms that means, “things are fixin’ to change”, and you might wanna get on board.
As the disciples continued to spread the message of Jesus some of the converted Jewish leaders still felt it necessary for any gentile to adopt Jewish rituals and beliefs. The problem wasn’t with the new gentile believers, it laid directly at the feet of the Jewish converts. They still felt it necessary to hold on to some of their old traditions. To know and follow the law of Moses was at the top of this list. They still had not fully bought into the fact that with Jesus’ sacrifice they were made clean. The Gentiles were new to all of this so they were understandably confused.
Here’s the good news, other than confessing your sins and believing that he came to die for all men, Jesus has and never will make knowing him conditional. He takes us as we are and only asks us to know him more. If we do this in earnest, the changes come from within. Therein lies the paradigm shift of what some religions will proclaim. Outward practices of religion are just that and rarely serve to bring us closer to God. Other than a willing heart and faith in his Son, God makes no distinction on who may come to know and be with him. Whether you are a curious bystander, new believer or religious fanatic, knowing Him more may be the paradigm shift you’ve been looking for! Acts 15:11 – But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.”
Let me preface this Devotional by saying I respect the work the following people did while they were with us and my hope is that they had a personal relationship with Jesus.
This past week was filled with news of “celebrity” deaths. These were people that many consider icons of a certain period of time. Certainly when you think of Farrah Fawcett, “the 70’s” can easily be part of your next thought. No one disputes Michael Jackson’s contribution to the world of music and to music videos. These people and the others who have passed on contributed to their field of work. Consider this, is their contribution more important than what you do on a daily basis in your field of work or for example what a Teacher or Fireman does?
Because these people are part of “pop culture” they are made to be larger than life, more important than that Fireman and sadly more important than Jesus. We can pass this off and just say it’s part of our society, but isn’t that the bigger issue? Our society puts more emphasis on “Pop Culture” than it does on Christ. The one that is there for us from dawn to dusk, day after day, week after week and we would rather watch another hour of Michael Jackson coverage than read our Bibles. If we gave Christ half of the time we devote to worldly things our lives would change immeasurably.
So who or possibly what do you “idolize”? Pop-culture is all about what’s hot! Today’s superstars are tomorrow’s has-beens. The newest fads and clothes are yesterday news in a month or two . . . so what ever it is, if it’s taking time away from your relationship with Jesus isn’t it time to “reconnoiter” your schedule and spend some time with the one who will always be on the top of the charts
2 Kings 17:41a – Even while these people were worshiping the Lord, they were serving their idols.
As I write this I am on a bus with 35 Jr. High School Students. We our on our way to Missouri for a mission trip to rehab a couple of homes. Along with the 35 kids are 8 adults. One of them is my friend Jason, we’ve been serving together since last fall. Jason leads a very busy life. He owns a construction company that performs a wide range of services, from backyard patios to a complete home. Jason has a wife and two young boys, in addition to serving as a youth coach he is a decision counselor and an usher at our church. My point here is that Jason leads a very busy life. Our Jr. High Minister
specifically asked Jason to come on this trip because of his knowledge in the construction business. His experience would be an invaluable asset in our task to lead the kids in the repairs and painting of these homes. As luck would have it, as this date approached Jason’s company (Jason) became very busy with jobs to be performed. With the economy being what it is . . . . to be a busy construction company is certainly a blessing.
Jason had every reason in the world to bow out of this trip and as he told me, even considered such. Then his wife handed him the above verse. Even with his responsibilities at home and his business, his wife new that the work that we were to be doing this week was far more important. With that said, the above verse assures us that any work we do for the Lord will be justly rewarded. When you consider all the good Jason will do this week by putting some things on hold it exemplifies the Christ like behavior of serving others first. Certainly this summer offers you an opportunity to serve in some capacity. Sure you’re busy . . . . but are you any busier than Jason? The opportunities abound for you to
change someone’s life forever and the best part of it all is that you will be rewarded 10 times over. What or WHO will you impact this summer?
1 Cor 15:58 – Therefore, my brothers be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord,
knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.
Can you remember a person that had a positive impact on your life? maybe a coach, a teacher, hopefully a parent. Through our lives we encounter scores of people who “teach” us how to live our lives. Some more directly than others but we all process what we see on a daily basis, good, bad or indifferent. Some of this goes in and right back out but when we are exposed to a specific person for a long period of time we certainly learn from them. Now think about a person that impacted your life negatively. This could have been the kid down the street that always got you in trouble a co-worker that yells a lot or anyone in between. You can also look at this as how we see those around us. Do you respect this person
or that person and learn from their behavior or do you try and keep a distance from them? Whether you realize it or not your children, your business associates & your neighbors are observing how you live your life. Are you a Mentor to those around you? Titus 2:7 – In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness. Or are you setting a different example? Proverbs 26:4 – Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you will be like him yourself. Which one of these people are you? Do you live your life as it is being observed? Not in a materialistic “look at what I’m doing today” way, but in a caring, God fearing way that sets a positive example for everyone you come in contact with.
In all we do, in all we say, we set an example every day . . . .
2 Tim 2:1-2 – You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.
Why do we always seem to need a logical explanation for why something happened? Maybe Newton’s Law is so ingrained in us we just feel there is always an answer we’ll understand. There is no doubt a reason exists for all things that happen. However, the reason, the explanation, may not be something God is ready for us to know or more appropriately, we’re not in the right place to understand yet.
As Paul and Barnabas continued their ministry they entered the town of Lystra. They happened upon a lame man and healed him. The town of predominantly Greek, hailed them as Gods, referring to them as Zeus and Hermes. They had witnessed something they had no explanation for so they applied their limited logic without considering the message the disciples we proclaiming. When they couldn’t make sense of Paul’s “explanation” that the lame man was healed in Jesus’ name, that very same crowd, turned on them.
We try to make sense of God and what he does by attaching a “logical” explanation to our circumstance. We must always hold dear that his actions are always meant to draw us closer to him and that our trust in Jesus will grow to the point of surrender. If we can learn to rest in the peace that whatever may be going on in our life is for our Good, maybe we won’t be so quick to need an explanation for it. Acts 14:11 – And when the crowds saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in Lycaonian, “The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men!”