In a world where whatever feels good is becoming acceptable what are you doing to tip the scales back the other way? Our culture is looking more and more like Rome’s before the fall. At that point in time, some Christians deemed unbiblical behavior acceptable. Paul’s letters to the various churches point this out very plainly. Today, all we have to do is take a quick glance, possibly in our bathroom mirrors, and we can see this happening again.
What is our responsibility to ourselves and others? No one leads a perfect sinless life. The battle begins anew each and everyday and our response to culture not only sets a course for our life but also for those around us. One of my favorite analogies for this is that in all things we have a choice to be the thermostat or the thermometer. The thermostat sets/controls the temperature of the room. The thermometer follows the temperature of the room. Which one are you?
We have an obligation to honor God in all we do, not only for our own good but for the good of those who are watching.
1 Corinthians 8:13 – Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.
I recently had a conversation with someone at our church. We were discussing some of our community outreach endeavors and that at a couple of them a message was given to the group in attendance. I have been privileged to deliver this message quite a few times. It’s nothing lengthy or complicated, just a short biblical message. I was surprised when he asked me, (paraphrasing) if my desire was to be a pastor.
In 1 Corinthians 7 Paul speaks on the topic of marriage and service to the church. This chapter is somewhat controversial in that he surmised that we can better serve God without the distractions and responsibilities of marriage. However, he goes on to say that whatever our circumstance in that regard, we are exactly where God wants us. This is true for everyone, in all circumstance. Meaning we can be of service to God by accepting that wherever we are in life, it’s right where he needs us at that time. Even in our darkest moments God can and will use us.
In regard to the question that was asked of me, to be honest I have thought about that a time or two. However, God has shown me that I can proclaim the freedom we find in Jesus wherever I am, regardless of a title. Right now, I understand and am thankful that I am exactly where he needs me and regardless of your circumstance, so are you, Trust in Jesus!
1 Corinthians 7:17 – Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him. This is my rule in all the churches
We live in a very litigious society. Everybody is suing everybody for anything under the sun. We have countless TV programs where we can tune in to watch people suing another. It is quite literally a spectacle.
In 1 Corinthians 6 Paul speaks to the Corinthian church asking the question, “why are you suing one another before a non-Christian court?” The broader question here is, why are you suing one another at all? This is something we too should ponder. From a point of context, there’s a lot that goes into this consideration. However, in it’s simplest form Paul is asking, why aren’t you as Christians, working through this on your own? Why are we so quick to pull the trigger on litigation when more times than not, the only ones who win are the lawyers?
I’m blessed to work for a company that is doing exactly what Paul is asking us to do, The Good Contractors List. As part of our service, if a problem arises, we provide free mediation between our contractors and homeowners. Our goal in this process is to bring the two back together, not to further divide them. I’m proud that we work to restore these relationships. Many times the impasse is something small that escalated quickly. This happens in our own lives all of the time. What Paul is asking us to consider and act on, is our compassion and thoughtful reasoning in working through issues with our fellow man. As Christians, if we can’t do this who will? 1 Corinthians 6:7a – To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you
I often speak of what I call God’s Humor. One such example is the correlation of certain illness and unaddressed sin in the church. Recently our office has received a visit from the virus that causes “pink eye”. Someone’s child contracted it, then her mother got it, then another co-worker and now the zombie apocalypse has began, well not quite but you get the point. Viruses are relentless and can spread like wildfire if precautions aren’t taken to prevent them.
Paul addresses the issue of sin in the Corinthian church by pointing out that those who are allowing it to continue are just as guilty. Unaddressed sin becomes acceptable behavior in a blink of an eye. Just look at what we now tolerate and accept that even ten years ago was completely unacceptable. The sin is bad enough but the sin of one man compared to the complacent unwillingness to address it by the body, is more harmful. As Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”. Not much to add to this other than we all have a responsibility in this. 1 Corinthians 5:6 – Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?
The story of Rocky Balboa is one that many of us can relate to. A simple man overcoming the odds to reach great heights. In the third installment, Rocky now an established world champion, is seen living the good life and in all honesty, leaving behind the hard work and humility that was at the soul of his accomplishment. In doing so he faces a hungry adversary that was determined to take away the championship Rocky had become complacent with. He was warned by his long time trainer Mickey that if he didn’t get back to the basics it wasn’t going to end well.
In Paul’s letter to the Corinthian church he is issuing a warning that they were straying from the roots of the church that he established. The church had indeed grown and in doing so they had become boastful of who they were. This led to division and judgement among the ranks. Paul speaks to his ministry and how it really hadn’t changed that much. He was a man of worldly poverty but rich in his quest to reach others for Christ. He remained keenly focused on others with little regard to his personal standing.
Back to Rocky, as he was preparing for this fight he left behind the things that made him a champion. He traded the modest gym for a Las Vegas Casino. The hard work was replaced with casual exhibition to further his brand. As Mickey warned, Rocky wasn’t prepared for the fight and his determined foe made quick work of taking the title away from him.
There are many “successful” ministries/churches that began in modesty who today tout extravagant facilities. This acts to draw people in but rarely does anything to further discipleship, which has been and will always be, job one. This also applies to the individual. We must be mindful that we don’t view ourselves as “better Christians”, more qualified than others. Our focus should always be looking to first serve and then lead others to Christ through his love.
1 Corinthians 4:1 – This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.
This scripture was written by Paul, who was by all accounts a pretty bad guy. Before his salvation, he sought out and persecuted those who followed Christ. We know how Paul’s life changed from the man we meet in Acts to the man we read in Philemon. He went on to preach the Gospel and bring countless people to know Christ.
On my way to work each day I listen to a couple of different programs. One of which is Dr. James Dobson’s. Focus on the Family. Last week, I was drawn into a three part interview with none other than David Berkowitz, the infamous Son-of-Sam serial killer. Before this, other than the name, I really didn’t know anything about the man or the terrible killings (6) which he committed in the mid ‘70’s. So over these three days I heard this man talk very candidly about his life and all that happened. From his childhood, by choice, he led a lonely life and was “troubled”. As he got older, he got into
drugs, cults & pornography (the sinners grand slam) Moreover, he had always had a violent temperament. Well some time after his capture and incarceration he found Christ and has been a follower, no Disciple, of Christ these past 10 years. Spreading the word, via his website, ariseandshine.org, much like what Paul did after his salvation (editors note, Paul didn’t have a website). However, it’s amazing how their lives parallel, from evil doer, to Christ follower that truly believes he is forgiven.
I certainly do not advocate the crimes committed by David Berkowitz, by the way, neither does he, who could? But can we forgive him for what he did? There is one who forgives us of all our Sins, Jesus Christ. If Jesus can take these two men, forgive them for their terrible deeds and use them to his Glory, just think how he could use you? . . .
. . . . if you will just let him . . . . . The Grace of God is unending . . . .
1Tim 1:16 – But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.
My wife and I took a trip down to the Texas Hill Country this past weekend. In my modest travels, I think this area is some of God’s best “work”. The rolling hills, regal oak trees and winding creeks seem to be around every corner. The wildlife that occupies this country is equally beautiful and amazing. It’s so easy for us to get caught up in our lives that we rarely take time to appreciate God’s Creations. When you do though, it’s evident that all that we see and hear is not by happenstance. Take for example the Owl Butterfly or a simple Leaf insect, for their protection, God created these
defenseless creatures with an inherent ability to blend in with their surroundings or in the case of the Owl Butterfly, even scare their predators away. If we were to think like evolutionists do, it would be a logical conclusion that the Leaf Insect used to be a “leaf” and over time it just grew legs and a thorax, etc, etc. We know these to be the perfect creations of God our Father.
God gives all his creations special abilities. This means YOU! We all have something we do well. It could be an artistic skill or the ability to run a corporation. The point is that God wants you to use the abilities he gave you. So think about what you do well and/or enjoy doing and go do it, knowing that it is a gift from God and while you’re at it, give him the Glory and Praise that such a gift warrants. Revelation 4:11 – “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.”
We’ve all been in a situation when we think we know where we are going and then something bad happens. After the
fact, we scratch our heads in wonder. For me, a good example is I’m always the last to go to bed at night. That means
I’m charged with “shutting down” the house. I walk through my house countless times a day and certainly know my
way around. However, shut off all the lights and it becomes a different world. On that walk to the bedroom in the dark,
I have stubbed my toe more times than I’d like to admit. Without the light to guide me I have to be much more careful,
as a stray shoe that I could easily see in the light, may lie in wait to derail my walk to the bedroom.
The same is true in our daily lives and the decisions that we make. What things can derail our decision making process?
Greed, Jealousy, Lust, Self Servitude . . . we have all tripped over these proverbial shoes. How can we avoid them?
EASY! just turn on the “light” and choose the path that the Holy Spirit directs you to take. If you pray daily and ask for
guidance in your life you’ll be much more likely to take the correct path.
Are you feeling your way through life or have you put your trust in the light that we all can share in Jesus? Proverbs 4:26 – Make level paths for your feet and take only ways that are firm
Is it human nature to question another’s motives? When someone inexplicably does something nice for you how often do you ask why?
The final chapter of John marks the end of the disciples account of Jesus’ life. It speaks of the disciples return to fishing. Jesus appears instructing them to cast their net on the other side of the boat, yielding a hefty catch of 153 fish. There is much speculation about this number. What does it signify? Is there a hidden meaning? Numerous biblical scholars have offered their opinions on the significance of 153 fish. David Guzik’s commentary provides another very well stated possibility; “The truth is that all we know for certain is that 153 stands for the number of fish that they caught! We must always be careful of manufacturing “hidden meanings” in the Word of God.”
In studying the four gospels there can be no mistaking Jesus’ motivation. There are no hidden meanings, agendas or secret codes buried with in the text. His only motivation was to love so that we would also love. He came and died to set the ultimate example. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. ~ John 15:13. I can’t encourage the study of these four chapters of the Bible enough. My hope is that they will define for you what I have found to be one of the most significant things in my life, who Jesus is and who he wants me to be. John 21:11 – So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, 153 of them. And although there were so many, the net was not torn.
John 20:19 On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
This was the first recorded instance of Jesus speaking these words to his disciples. This is a little odd as it was a common salutation of that time. In reading Matthew Henry’s commentary it becomes clear as to why they were recorded here: “His kind and familiar salutation of his disciples: He said, Peace be unto you. This was not a word of course, though commonly used so at the meeting of friends, but a solemn, uncommon benediction, conferring upon them all the blessed fruits and effects of his death and resurrection. The phrase was common, but the sense was now peculiar. Peace be unto you is as much as, All good be to you, all peace always by all means. Christ had left them his peace for their legacy, ”
Those words are why he came and allowed himself to be put to death. He came not to conquer but to bring peace to an unpeaceful world. That peace exists only through Jesus and is available to all who call on his name as Lord and savior. Peace be with you!