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Archive for May, 2009

To any blog-readers reading this blog, I will be taking a 3 week hiatus as I go on mission with our Carpenters for Christ group. When I return, we’ll start the study on 2 Corinthians!

Have a blessed day! Lord willing, we’ll see you in 3 weeks!

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verses 22-24: “If anyone does not love the Lord, let him be accursed. Maranatha. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you. My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen.”

Paul closes his 1 Corinthians letter with these verses.

There are 3 cross reference verses to verse 22 above and the use of the word “accursed”:
1 Corinthians 12:3: “Therefore I make known to you, that no one speaking by the Spirit of God says, ‘Jesus is accursed’; and no one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit.”
Romans 9:3: “For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh,”
Galatians 1:8-9: “But even though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed.”

That Galatians reference had a footnote that further defined “accursed” as anathema, or devoted to destruction. Ecclesiastiacally, it was accompanied by excommunication. (Ryrie Study Bible NAS)

Pretty strong stuff. How would you like to be accursed? I know there are times in life when we may “feel” like we’re accursed (why is everything happening to me, woe is me, can it get any worse!)…and I am not making light of people’s troubles. God does care about your troubles.

Paul here is laying down both a command to the Corinthian church and a foretelling of what happens to those who preach contrary to the gospel of Jesus Christ. They are going to be accursed. If you are a true Christian, filled with the Holy Spirit, you cannot truly do what 1 Corinthians 12:3 is saying above…you can’t curse Jesus and acknowledge Him as Lord in the same breath! More than ever, we need to witness to a world that needs to hear the gospel of Christ. Please remember that today.

By the way, “Marantha” means “our Lord, come!” To you, I say today, Marantha!

I also echo the sentiments of the verses 23-24: ” The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you. My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen.”

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verses 17-18:  “And I rejoice over the coming of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus; because they have supplied what was lacking on your part.  For they have refreshed my spirit and yours.  Therefore acknowledge such men.”

Ever been hiking in the woods?  Hiking is not the most passive of exercises; it’ll work you!  You get hot, tired, and sometimes just plain worn out.  But then you come upon that refreshing stream, where the water is clean and clear and cold.  All it takes is some gulps of that water, and you already feel re-energized.

Now, there’s nothing “magic” about the water; God designed our bodies that when we get worn down, the body needs refreshing.  The same can be said for our spirits.  There are times we are going to be beat down by the troubles of this old world.  Even Paul felt that way at times.  That’s why he was grateful for fellow believers who ministered to him, and helped to refresh him. 
Sometimes, as Christians, we stubbornly plunge ahead, when, if we would but listen to Him, He is saying, “Stop.  Take a break.  Refresh yourself…..now resume.”

There is a book my father-in-law gave me called The Refreshers by Junior Hill.  I have not finished reading it yet, but if you’d like to look into what it means to be a refresher…check it out.

Have a blessed day!

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verses 13-14: “Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.”

Paul continues to wrap up this letter with what the Holman commentary calls “general exhortations”. What is the definition of exhortation? According to http://www.merriam-webster.com , it is a “transitive verb : to incite by argument or advice : urge strongly intransitive verb : to give warnings or advice : make urgent appeals”.

In short, to encourage! How many times have you gone the extra mile, given just one more try, or redoubled your efforts at something, just because someone was rooting for you? Team athletes like football players remember all they learn in practice (well, they’re supposed to!), but what’s that coach doing in the few minutes before they take the field? Exhorting them, reminding them, encouraging them!

Encouragement can be positive (you can do it!) or negative (remember, don’t do that!) It’s advisory, but not impersonal advice. (My wife just reminded me, it’s with the person’s best interest in mind.) Paul certainly felt that for his Corinthian flock. Jesus certainly feels that for His flock. He is the Coach, Teacher, Mentor, Shepherd wanting us to succeed in His name! And we should try and try again…not for our glory but for His glory and in His Name!

So when you feel beat down, or depressed, or just empty, listen to the Coach tell you to take a deep breath and get back into the game. As an old song lyric goes that I remember from watching Captain Kangaroo “…pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again!”

P.S. if you have no idea who Captain Kangaroo is, please ask someone 40 or older, or go Google-search Bob Keeshan/Captain Kangaroo!

Have a blessed day!

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verse 7: “For I do not wish to see you now just in passing; for I hope to remain with you for some time, if the Lord permits.”

For all his time away from the Corinthian church and all the advice and wisdom he passed onto the flock in Corinth, Paul still desired even more to come and visit. Not just visit…but to stay a while.

My wife and I lament that, at times in our busy lives, we rarely get to visit for a good long while with friends, unless we actually map that time out! We have some wonderful next door neighbors, and their grandson invited our sons to his birthday party at a bowling alley. This allowed my wife and I to have some free time, get a few things done, and then pick up the boys at their house when the party was over. Well, what began as “we’ll stay just a minute” turned into about 2 hours of wonderful conversation, and both sets of neighbors getting to know each other.

We all lead busy lives, and life just doesn’t seem to slow down. But I would advise you, my friends, to take the time, to just slow down, visit and talk with friends and family, and yes, “stop and smell the roses”. After all, those roses only bloom for so long, and then they are gone.

I forgot to mention the most perfect example of One who did things in His time….Jesus.

Look at some of the examples from His earthly ministry:
“And it was at this time that He went off to the mountain to pray, and He spent the whole night in prayer to God.”
“When He had completed all His discourse in the hearing of the people, He went to Capernaum.”
“Now one of the Pharisees was requesting Him to dine with him. And He entered the Pharisee’s house, and reclined at the table.”
“And it came about soon afterwards, that He began going about from one city and village to another, proclaiming and preaching the kingdom of God; and the twelve were with Him,”
There are other accounts too: when He healed Jairus’s daughter, the feeding of the multitude, His answer to Martha when she complained about Mary not helping her when He visited their home, His visit with Zaccheus, His raising Lazarus from the dead, and all the events of the last week of His earthly ministry including His resurrection. All done according to His schedule.

Throughout all those events, it wasn’t time that dictated Jesus’s length of stay. He didn’t say, “I’m sorry, but I’m due in the next town, see you next time.” He arrived, stayed, and departed…in His time. He spent that time doing what He needed to do; included in those times were situations where He dwelled with friends or dined with sinners. He took the time to be with those who needed Him the most.

Take the time today to be with Jesus, and spend time with those around you. Only the Lord knows, but it could be that the only thing some folks might need from you today…is just to spend some time with them.

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verses 1-2: “Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I directed the churches of Galatia, so do you also. On the first day of every week let each one of you put aside and save, as he may prosper, that no collections be made when I come.”

In this last chapter of 1 Corinthians, Paul is wrapping up his letter with some quick instructions. My Bible has a footnote regarding the instructions of verse 2: the first of every week was Sunday, that’s when the giving takes place; the money is set aside for that purpose; and you give in proportion to God’s prospering.

Times are tough; yes, I know, late-breaking news on that front….but even though the economy changes, God doesn’t. He still is the same God who showers us in blessings. Jesus never said we’ll be financially rich, remember? But we are richer knowing Him as our Lord and Savior.

All God instructed was that we returned 1/10th back to him. All I can say is, I have always seen blessings when I faithfully tithe. I believe you will, too. Don’t let your tithing be an afterthought, or “hey, we got some money left, let’s tithe”. There is a reason the term “first fruits” is used in the Bible. The tithe comes first.

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verses 57-58: “but thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.”

We have all felt worn down, even felt defeated, like what we do/did doesn’t matter or wouldn’t have made a difference. For example, I sometimes felt that way in my high school officiating career, like what I did, didn’t make a difference in the long run to the players or coaches I interacted with. It wasn’t till I retired a couple of years ago, that I got an email that made my day…it was from an unexpected source, a fellow official, who thanked me for my Christian witness and conduct that I exhibited as an official. I felt like God was telling me, “your toil is not in vain in the Lord”.

Be steadfast and immovable in your work for the Lord. Who is the most necessary teammate in a game of tug-of-war? Is it the first person at the lead of the rope? Is it the person in the middle? No…it’s the anchor, the last person on the team at the back, who is making sure he/she doesn’t give…that allows the rest of the team to regroup when the opposition rocks you off your heels. Be that anchor today…the only way to be it is to rely on the true Anchor in our lives. I’m talking about the Rock of Salvation named Jesus Christ.

After all, He has already won the victory! The game has been decided!

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verse 39: “All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one flesh of men, and another flesh of beasts, and another flesh of birds, and another of fish.”

We recently did a children’s musical in our church entitled “King of the Jungle”. In it, a beleaugered work-stressed dad chaperoning his son on a tour of the King’s Animal Kingdom discovers that the Lord of creation can be the King of your heart. In the musical, two monkeys happen to be following the tram and wise-cracking about comments the tour guide and kids are making. One of their comments talks about when one of the kids comments that “my dad says we all come from the monkeys”. The monkeys reply to each other, “Ha! They should be so lucky! Yeah, who came up with that ridiculous story?”

I have a footnote in my Bible from a previous sermon on this passage that states “The truth wins over evolution”. Make no mistake, no matter what is taught in school these days, God created man in His image…and our Creator doesn’t look like a monkey!

Have a blessed day!

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verses 26, 33: “The last enemy that will be abolished is death.” “Do not be deceived: Bad company corrupts good morals.”

2 interesting verses here.

No more death. With all the advances in medicine and science today, people actually talk about seeing the day when there is no more cancer, or no more terminal diseases. But no more death? Outside of the reward of Christ (eternal life in heaven), it seems like something you read about in comic books. Yet it’s true; there will be no more death. What a day that will be!

I’m going to repeat an old analogy here: how do experts tell counterfeit money? Do they compare it to similar counterfeits? Or do they compare it to the genuine article? Now take it a step further: if you had a bag of money, and inspected the first 5 or 10 bills, and they were all counterfeit, what conclusion would you draw about the entire bag? Why, that they all were counterfeit, of course. But what if there was real money in the bag too, and you never saw it? You’ve just dismissed the genuine because it was immersed in the fake.

Another old phrase I heard is “it’s easier to be pulled down, than to pull someone up.” Jesus calls us to walk in this world, but not become it. Be careful today as you minister and witness, that you are pulling up those who need Jesus…and not being pulled down into the mire of this world.

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verses 19-20: “If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied. But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep.”

You go to college or trade school. You make it through 4 or more tough years of difficult classes, massive homework assignments, class projects, and more difficult instructors (don’t worry, youngsters, it’s not as bad as I’m painting it! haha) You’ll go through ups and downs in relationships and life events. It’s a different world from high school. And then you get to graduation day—cap and gown, the processional, hearing your name called, getting the diploma….and that’s it. Nothing more comes of it. Time for the next thing, if there is a next thing…

Wait, you say. That’s not right! There was a reason you went to college, right? Isn’t it supposed to prepare you or help you in your chosen career in life after school? Aren’t some of the people you meet possibly involved in your future as well?

Yes, I exaggerated that situation to make a point. College isn’t just for 4 years and that be it. It’s the education and key you need, these days, to get into almost any career. In years past, it was icing on the cake; now, it’s the cake, and you have to have it, to make it in a job (most cases any way).

So it is with our life in Christ. If all we had to live for, was just during our time on earth, how sad. All the stuff on this old planet will be gone one day. Christ said the walk we choose in Him is not easy. But it’s all preparation for the glory of the prize…eternal life in Heaven with Him! Just think about those bolded words; no more pain and suffering…we will be with Him in glory.

Like the verse from the song goes:
“When Jesus steps out,
On a cloud to call His children,
The dead in Christ will rise,
To meet Him in the air!”
Midnight Cry

When life gets you down during your “studies” today….think about Him and the prize that awaits.

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