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Verses 4-5: “And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.”

There is no better feeling than when you are used by God, and through His power, not your own.

Our church choir recently performed our annual Christmas program. We are blessed with a very knowledgeable, talented, and experienced music minister (blessed by God), who often picks out various pieces of different styles for our choir to sing. We finished the program with a magnificent operatic arrangement of Christ is Born; the lead solos were 4 men, and the music minister had asked me to be the 2nd tenor solo in this piece. Now, without bragging, I’ve sung solos before and I believe I have a pretty good voice; but nothing in my experience had prepared me for the challenge of this solo. Our music minister (bless his heart) worked with me and drilled me a lot on operatic style of belting out this solo, from pronunciation to breathing techniques. Come performance night, I was anxious. What’s more, the Christ is Born piece was at the END of a 40-minute program. I had some water hidden under my chair and took sips when I could. Come time to walk down, I bent over to grab one last sip…and turned over the cup! (not to worry, it didn’t spill through the lid). However, I had no time to get one more swig of water.

It was at that point, that I prayed quickly, “ok, Lord, it’s all on You, because I can’t sing this with my voice this tired on my own.” It’s funny, it felt almost like God said back to me, “I’ve got this, I’m all you need.” I went out and sang with all my heart; God blessed my efforts. I had several compliments from folks and my music minister later told my wife that I did great! All glory to God! (oh, and by the way, God had me again that night when we sang a 2nd performance of this same program not more than one hour later!)

I tell you all this to remind you what Paul was doing. I have always admired Paul for his eloquence of argument and his speaking abilities, but I forgot (until I read this passage) that he was relying on the Lord to give him the power to address the Corinthian congregation here. That church was starting to slip back into relying on human wisdom, and Paul reminded them that the real power, the real wisdom, comes from the Holy Spirit!

Just remember an old adage I’ve heard before and is appropriate here: let go and let God!

Something to think about.

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Verse 27: “But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty;”

A car racer, Cliff Steele, has a freak accident and his brain is surgically placed in a nigh invulnerable robot body.
A test pilot, Larry Trainor, has a freak accident, requiring him to be wrapped in radiation-proof bandages to contain the alien being that has bonded with him.
A talented, athletic, beautiful actress named Rita Farr has a freak accident with strange volcanic gases, giving her size changing abilities.

All of them considered freaks; but Niles Caulder bonds them together into a team to protect the world…a team called…the Doom Patrol.

5 teenagers with various mutations are recruited to the Charles Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters. One has wings, one has optic blast vision, one can form ice, one has beast-like strength and agility, and one has telekinesis. Feared by the world, these mutants will become mankind’s protectors…the X-Men.

In both instances, DC Comics and Marvel Comics created magazines about outcasts; these outcasts became unlikely heroes and the reading public loved them. Even today, some of these heroes exist now on the big screen of movies. But if you were to pick some type of superheroes to be easily accepted and popular, would you have picked these? Even a young Stan Lee had to convince his bosses when he was first starting out to give him a chance with a teenager who wasn’t a sidekick…a teenager who would become Spider-Man!

Paul is reminding the Corinthian church that God has picked the least likely choices (by man’s standards) to spread the Gospel, to show The Way. Think about Jesus’s disciples: were they all-star teams of leaders with great talent sets? Were they the Justice League or the Avengers?

No, their occupations were:
Fishermen
Tax Collector
Zealot
Tradesmen
And some we don’t even know what they did…they were just called by Jesus.
(Found this info at https://www.allaboutjesuschrist.org/occupations-of-the-12-disciples-faq.htm)

The world would look at them and say “They’re going to help change the world?” Jesus looked at them and said, “Come, and I will make you fishers of men.”

Something to think about.

Verse 18-19: “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, And bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.””

Amanda Marie McCoy, a scientist in the employ of billionaire industrialist Lex Luthor, had collated all the data she could on Superman and his friends and acquaintances. Luthor was trying to find out more about the newly revealed Man of Steel. McCoy was explaining to Luthor how there was an incredible amount of connections between Clark Kent and Superman; Luthor wanted to know what that relationship was. Feeding the information into Lexcorp’s computer system, the result appeared on the monitor: “Clark Kent is Superman”.

McCoy was astounded, but found the conclusion logical. Lex, however, didn’t share her reaction:

“Logical. Is it? To a machine perhaps. Yes…A soulless machine might make that deduction. But not Lex Luthor! I know better! I know that no man with the power of Superman would ever pretend to be a mere human! Such power is to be constantly exploited. Such power is to be used!!”

McCoy tried to reason the data’s reliability, but Lex wouldn’t hear it. He angrily ordered her to remove the data from his computers, and then remove herself from his employ. His last words of that issue are interesting: “I have no place in my organization for people who cannot see the obvious!”

(The above was found in the last pages of Superman Vol. 2, issue 2, by DC Comics. John Byrne was writing this new revamp of the Man of Steel in the 1980’s. I reference the comic page image at https://www.bleedingcool.com/2014/05/21/lex-luthors-big-surprise-from-forever-evil-7-spoilers/)

This to me, is a good parallel to today’s verse from Paul. He quotes Is 29:14 in relaying to the Corinthian church how the so-called religious leaders and “wise” people did not understand the message of the cross and what Jesus Christ did to redeem us. They didn’t want to hear it either; it was foolish to them! Just like arrogant Lex Luthor, who couldn’t understand that Clark Kent (raised by Jonathan and Martha Kent and instilled with their values) was Superman and used his powers to help people. To Luthor’s smug wisdom, it wouldn’t dawn on him to acknowledge that those with power should help others. Just like the religious leaders of Paul’s day…they couldn’t believe Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God, and would pay our sin debt through His death on the cross and His resurrection. To those who believe and are saved, it truly is the power of God!

Something to think about.

Verse 13: “Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?”

The college conference that my alma mater belongs to is the SEC – Southeastern Conference. Each member school is proud of its standing, accomplishments, and strengths. You can hear it especially when any teams from any two of the schools play each other. But come college playoff / post-season bowl time, if a member team is up against a member of another conference (especially one that thinks that they’re better than the SEC), the conference pride comes out, and you might well hear the cheers of “S-E-C! S-E-C! S-E-C!” No matter the intra-conference college rivalries, the conference usually stands together.

That is somewhat a loose analogy as to what should be happening in Corinth. Paul is dismayed to discover that, although the church was founded on Jesus Christ, personality divisions have begun taking over: “I am of Paul…I am of Apollos…I am of Cephas…” and some still would say “I am of Christ”. Paul wanted them ALL to say “I am of Christ”! He is reminding them that Jesus Christ is the One who died for their sins, rose again, and lives that we may live in Him! It was not important how they came to Christ…only that they came to Christ! Or, to put it colloquially, Paul wanted to remind them to keep the main thing, the main thing!

Do you belong to the Savior? The introduction is surely not as important as the conversation.

Something to think about.

I checked recently, and I last went through the books of 1 and 2 Corinthians sometime around 2009 (wow, almost a decade). After I completed the last study, I felt called by God to revisit those twin set of letters from Paul. You see, back when my church did a summer reading walkthrough of Psalms, I started sharing revelations that God showed me through the study. When we finished, I had several friends on the list ask me, “Well, you’re not going to stop now, are you?” The very next study we went through in this almost 10-year-old ministry was the Corinthians. Seeing how God’s Word is “active and sharper than any two-edged sword”, I thought it might be interesting to revisit these books to see what God wants to show us. So…back to Corinth!

I Cor. 1: 1,2,9:
“Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother,”
“To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:”
“God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”

We answer calls in different ways; take the following 2 examples:

The other morning, I logged into my work computer to find out (so I thought) that I had to report to the Disaster Recovery drill we hold twice a year. “Oh, great.” I thought. Not only was I not prepared, I thought it was someone else’s turn at this. So, I trudged over to the building to report to the drill room, not looking forward to spending hours in this room until our responsibilities were discharged. I vented to the Lord on the way…but He was already ahead of me. Turns out the tag-team oncall who took the first watch for our team had already verified all that we had to do (he had just not told me!) Furthermore, my manager later apologized and told me my name was listed for DR by mistake. As I left, I looked heavenward and prayed, “Thank you, Lord…and I’m sorry I had to the wrong attitude about this.”

Contrast that with Eugene Judd, a bouncer for a Canadian bar. He and the bartender had observed one of the waitresses getting manhandled by a couple of punks, so he went over to correct them. The punks laughed at first, because Judd was a dwarf, only a few feet tall, However, Eugene Judd was also the secret Canadian operative code-named Puck! He soon manhandled the two punks right out of the bar! No sooner had the dust cleared than a hypersonic signal came across a device implanted behind one of Judd’s ears. “The call”, he whispered, “THE CALL!” He went happily cartwheeling out of the bar and down the street. You see, the call was from the Canadian super-team known as Alpha Flight, whom Judd thought had disbanded…but now, with the call, he knew it would be time for action against some menace. (This was from my recollection of Alpha Flight #1 from Marvel Comics).

2 different calls, one real, one fictional. Both were answered, but the attitude was different. You’ll note in the Scripture verses above the verbs “called” and “call”. Paul and the Corinthian church were called by God, and they in turn call on the name of Jesus Christ. Both calls are important, laden with responsibility. Paul was reminding the church about how important it is to “answer the call”. And, we Christians know, that at all times, Jesus is just a call away in prayer.

Have you answered the call today? Have you already answered the most important call you could get (to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior)? If not….better answer that call before it’s too late!

Something to think about.

Jesus: I AM

John 8: 56-58: “”Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.” Then the Jews said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?” Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.””

In Exodus 3:13-15, Moses is at the burning bush, receiving his “marching orders” from God. When Moses asked God what to say when he tells the children of Israel that the God of your fathers has sent me to you (knowing that they would ask what His name was), God said “I AM WHO I AM.” In verse 14, the Bible states: “And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, I AM has sent me to you.”

I recall reading the information at the following website, https://www.desiringgod.org/messages/i-am-who-i-am. John Piper shared the following insight:
The Most Important Name for God in the Old Testament
The most common and the most important name for God in the Old Testament is a name that in our English versions never even gets translated. Whenever you see the word LORD in all capital letters, you know that this name is behind it. In Hebrew, the name had four letters — YHWH — and may have been pronounced something like Yahweh. The Jews came to regard this word with such reverence that they would never take it upon their lips, lest they inadvertently take the name in vain. So whenever they came to this name in their reading, they pronounced the word adonai which means my lord. The English versions have basically followed the same pattern. They translate the proper name Yahweh with the word LORD in all caps.”

Wow. Powerful. Contrast that with today’s society, where it seems like a lot of folks take God’s name flippantly, irreverently, and in vain. Sad.

So, when Jesus makes this statement to the Jews (who couldn’t fathom how Jesus knew Abraham), and says, “before Abraham was, I AM”, there is NO doubt as to what He is telling them…He is God.

As I mentioned at the outset, I was only going to be sharing insights God showed me on some of His names. This is the last one for this study. However, when you sum it all up, Jesus is simply I AM. He is God! God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. He simply…IS.

The next study we’ll be doing will be revisiting a favorite book of mine that we have walked through before. Be in prayer for me, and check back in a while, as we began a return visit to 1 and 2 Corinthians.

Have a blessed day in the Lord!

Rev. 5:5: “But one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals.”

The last time we talked about Jesus as the Lamb of God. What would seem an opposing title is today’s topic, the Lion of Judah.

One of those questions you ponder when you have time to think about it, is, “Why is the lion called the King of the Beasts/Jungle?” Some light research led me to Quora.com, where I took a few samples of information that came up on my Google search:

“Lion is known to be the King of Beasts (“king of the jungle” would be a misnomer) across most cultures of the world. This is mostly because of a lion’s appearance and partly because of the social structure of a pride and the lion’s role in the pride.” “It is usually called the king of beasts because of its royal appearance the mane gives lions, and because they live in prides.” – Why is the lion called ‘The King of beasts’? – Quora (https://www.quora.com/Why-is-the-lion-called-The-King-of-beasts)

As a young child I saw an animated version of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe on television. At the time I didn’t recognize the simile that C.S. Lewis was weaving into the Chronicles of Narnia – this was my first exposure to it. I remember the scene where Aslan the Lion lays down his life on the altar and is killed by the White Witch; at the time, I thought, “but he is the hero, right?” Then when Susan and Lucy discover the altar broken and that Aslan lived again….then, I recognize who Aslan represented (no wonder Lewis chose a lion as the representation!):

“Aslan is the only character to appear in all seven books of the Chronicles of Narnia. Aslan represents Jesus Christ, according to the author, C. S. Lewis, who uses the allegory in the books that Aslan is the Lion and the Lamb, which also says in the Bible about God.” – Aslan | The Chronicles of Narnia Wiki | FANDOM powered by Wikia (narnia.wikia.com/wiki/Aslan).

The lion is seen as king; what better title for Jesus Christ, our King, than the Lion of Judah.