Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Paul’

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.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

Matthew 11:19: “The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ But wisdom is justified by her children.”
Mark 2:16-17: “And when the scribes and Pharisees saw Him eating with the tax collectors and sinners, they said to His disciples, “How is it that He eats and drinks with tax collectors and sinners?” When Jesus heard it, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.””

Garfield the cat was looking down at a caterpillar, who said (thought), “I’m going to be a butterfly”. “And just how are you going to do that?” Garfield asked. “Uh…” the caterpillar says, pauses, and then says, “I know a guy.” When I read that, I smiled, thinking that the caterpillar was referring to the Creator.

Back in my post of Acts 11:25-26, I used the “I know a guy” quote in the analogy of Barnabas and Paul. In society today, it seems like everyone “knows” someone who’s well-connected, has influence or power, or has favors. Garth Brooks turned this phrase on its ear with his old country ballad “Friends in Low Places”. However, when you think about it, it is always nice to know someone who can help you in situations where you cannot help yourself or achieve some goal by yourself.

The scoffers derided Jesus Christ out loud, saying he frequently was seen with “tax collectors and sinners”, the lowest of the low. Even in Mark 2:16-17, they question why He ate with them. How blessed are we sinners that Jesus didn’t separate Himself, but came to us, to save us, to pay our price, to redeem us. Our Messiah wasn’t some upper-crust rich snob who didn’t let himself be seen with those lower in class; instead, He reached out to us, as a Friend.

What a Friend we have in Jesus!

Something to think about.

Read Full Post »

Verse 24: “And some were persuaded by the things which were spoken, and some disbelieved.”

Here we are, at the end of 2017. Tomorrow is January 1, 2018. Like most folks, I look back on this year reflectively. There are good memories and accomplishments; there are also some memories and incidents that I’d rather forget (and hope are not repeated in the new year!) Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr, a French critic, journalist, and novelist, once stated that “the more things change, the more they stay the same” (this is a loose translation; I referenced this from the Wikipedia entry on Karr: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean-Baptiste_Alphonse_Karr). Sometimes you think things will be different, only to see that they still turn out the same way.

Paul must have felt some sense of this. After ministering on the isle of Malta, he finally makes it Rome. Granted some freedom to stay in a house while awaiting trial, he calls the local Jewish leaders to him and updates them on recent events as well as telling them the Good News. If you or I were Paul, we might be tempted to think, “well, this time will be different. This isn’t the local mob of Jews I’ve had to deal with. I’m in Rome now; the outcome will be much better.”

But what happened? The same result as before: some were persuaded and believed, but some disbelieved. It can be disheartening to keep trying over and over and yet feel rejected, but this didn’t stop Paul. He kept preaching the Gospel wherever he was and with whoever he was with. We should have this same attitude as well. God didn’t call us to save people to Him; only Jesus Christ can save people’s souls. God commands us, as Christians, to tell the Good News to as many as we can. We’re just messengers; we can’t make people accept Christ…but God takes the seeds that are sown in His name, and takes it from there.

So as we conclude this study of Acts, remember to be faithful messengers in Jesus’s name…telling the Good News of Jesus Christ. We’ll resume the studying in a few weeks with a series called “Jesus: I Am the (fill-in-the-blank)” It’s a study of some of the analogies that Jesus taught His disciples to better explain Who He is. These analogies are just as important to us years later, as well.

May God bless you this coming new year!

Read Full Post »

Verses 23-24: “For there stood by me this night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve, saying, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must be brought before Caesar; and indeed God has granted you all those who sail with you.'”

Whenever I do not drive myself on Carpenters for Christ mission trips, most of the other times I travel with my father in his truck. Since he is driving, I’ll chart our progress on a map to see how close we are to state lines and such (in most cases to take some snapshots). There have been times he has asked me where we are on the map and how close we are to certain landmarks or towns. He has even asked before how many miles we are to a certain area (good thing I took land navigation in high school!) I thought of this when reading all the detail that Luke put into the account of Paul travelling to Rome aboard the ship and his trials during the storm. Most of the account is filled with this navigational detail, but there were three things that drew my attention while reading this account.

In verse 3, Luke writes that Julius (the centurion in charge of the prisoners) treated Paul kindly. I’m reminded that God “clears the way” when we need His help, and sometimes that help comes in unexpected people that He sends our way.

The second item is in verses 23-24: that God reminded Paul that he was to make it to Rome alive to be brought before Caesar. Worry is one of the devil’s favorite weapons…with that weapon, he can rob us of the energy and focus that we need in ministering for God. Paul was probably emboldened and strengthened to be reminded of this by God’s angel. The weight of concern about their survival was lifted from him with this reminder, allowing him to focus on the task at hand.

The third item is in verse 36; Paul encouraged the men, who hadn’t eaten anything in the last 14 days, to take nourishment for their survival. The angel had told Paul that they would survive, but the ship would be run aground, so they would need strength to make it shore (go without food for 2 weeks, and see how strong you are!) This verse is a reminder that God gave us physical bodies that we need to take care of in order to better serve Him. That means making sure we take the nourishment we need to keep our bodies running as they should.

Sounds like common sense, right? But as I’m often reminded in this old world, common sense ain’t as common as it used to be. It’s better to let God do the driving and we “ride shotgun” with Him!

Something to think about.

Read Full Post »

Verses 31-32: “and when they had gone aside, they talked among themselves, saying, “This man is doing nothing deserving of death or chains.” Then Agrippa said to Festus, “This man might have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar.””

“How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?” – Sherlock Holmes, Chapter 6, p.111, The Sign of the Four (got this from https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Sherlock_Holmes).

As Sherlock Holmes so wryly explained, when you take off all other factors of something (prejudices, societal designations, stigmas, labels, opinions, etc.), the only thing left is the truth. That is just what Agrippa and Festus conclude once they bring Paul’s presentation to an end by standing up and leaving the room. After some side discussion with Festus, Agrippa gives Festus his opinion (which Festus had asked for). The verdict: not guilty. No other decision could be reached; they said it plainly: “This man is doing nothing deserving of death or chains.” Agrippa further states ironically, “This man might have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar.”

Remember, Paul had his travel plans arranged already…not by Festus, who you might say was the conductor in this case…but by the Lord, the One who is taking Paul on the Holy Express to witness in Rome. As the narrator of the animated cartoon The Hobbit once sang, “The greatest adventure is what lies ahead.”

More to come!

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »