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10/31 1 Corinthians 10

In Chapter 10 Paul gives encouragement to all about being tempted to with sin.  God provides for His people in all situations.

13No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.

In verse 23 Paul explains that while everything is allowed, not everything is beneficial or constructive for us.  Just because the laws allow you do something, act a certain way, or do what you want, doesn’t mean it is good for you.  It doesn’t mean God approves.  He calls us to measure it against what will benefit others and I dare say what God would have you do.

23“Everything is permissible”—but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible”—but not everything is constructive. 24Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.

Paul then goes on in verse 31 to tell us that whatever we do, do it so that it will bring glory to God.  Also remembering that whatever we are doing should not cause others to sin.  Thinking about the effect we have on others should be first and foremost in our minds.  Remember, the world looks for Christians to mess up or put ourselves in awkward positions so they can say see they are not all that good after all.  They tell us how we should live and look at them.

31So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 32Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God— 33even as I try to please everybody in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.

Paul reminds us that he always has the lost in mind?  What about us?

October 31, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

10/30 1 Corinthians 7-9

Paul writes in chapter 7 about marriage and chapter 8 about food sacrificed to idols.  At the end of chapter 9 he gives us his methods for success in his ministry.  Paul explains two very important concepts.

Being sensitive and flexible

Paul states that while he is free and a slave to no man, he willing becomes a slave to everyone.  He chooses to meet people where they are.  Imagine if you wanted to talk to someone about Jesus and you told them that you only have time next Tuesday @ 12 and you will be close to a local fast food place.  Can they meet you then and there?  Would you think they might be a little more receptive if you asked them when and where would be good for them.  Or if someone is a runner, would you become a runner just to talk to them during the cool down.  To what lengths are we willing to go to tell people about Jesus?

19Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 20To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. 22To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. 23I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.

Being prepared and having purpose

Speaking of running, Paul uses the analogy of running a race to get his point across.  Why even run in a race if your goal is to loose?  Whether it is to beat someone else or your best time, do it with a purpose.  If your goal is not winning someone to Christ, then what exactly is your goal?  We are called to share the Gospel with all unbelievers.

24Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.  25Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. 27No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

Training is the key.  No one tries to run a race without doing some advance training.  Yep, decided to run a marathon today, so I’m getting up off the couch and heading out the door, be back in 26 miles.  Not going to happen is it.  Neither will you be successful with leading someone to Christ without spending time in God’s word, spending time thinking about how you may approach this person or that one, and most importantly spending time in prayer.

Paul was successful because he was flexible, sensitive, prepared and had a purpose.  Sounds like a winning combo to me.  What about you?

October 30, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

10/29 1 Corinthians 4-6

Paul starts chapter 4 with comments about judging others. What really interested me in this section of scripture is that Paul states that, “I do not even judge myself” and he could care less if someone judges him by human standards.  He has moved beyond that.  Only the Lord can judge him going forward, based on what he does and how he does it.  He knows that his sins have been forgiven.  He has a new life and how he lives it will be the basis for future judgment.  How many times do we stand in judgment of others?  I would dare say, way to many.  Sometimes we don’t even realize that we are doing it.  Judging others that is.  Look how they are dressed.  Look at that car they drive.  For that matter how many times do we judge ourselves harshly?

1So then, men ought to regard us as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the secret things of God. 2Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. 3I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. 4My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. 5Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God.

Paul finishes up chapter 6 with these instructions:

18Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. 19Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.

Paul reminds us to honor God with our bodies.  The biggest sin in this category is sexual sin.  But I believe there are other things that dishonor God that emanates from the body also.  Luke 6:45 says,  “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.” As Christians we need to guard what comes out of our mouth.  Just as the verse says, “You are not your own, you were bought at a price.”

October 29, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

What if Jesus Facebooked? (Part 4)

October 28, 2009

The Bay to Breakers footrace is an annual event in San Francisco that isn’t your everyday jog. To picture the Bay to Breakers race isn’t to picture your normal 5K. The runners in this West Coast race are anything but serious runners. In fact, to prove they’re not serious about running, they choose to not run empty-handed. Some athletes (and I use that word loosely) carry kitchen sinks while running, others push entire beds while they “sprint” down the street. The crucial runners in this race dress up as cucumbers or bananas. Due to all of this craziness and due to the weight some runners choose to carry while racing, only 1 out of 4 runners finish. This is not your normal race.

To the world, the world also sees the Christian life as “not your normal race”. God’s race is for serious runners – because it’s only for those who aim to finish.  Hebrews 12, at the beginning, shows us that the Christian life is a race. While running God’s race we are instructed to throw off everything that hinders (Hebrews 12:1). What hinders you in the running of God’s race? What trips us up in a relationship with Him? We have choices to make. We can’t have everything we want. We can’t do everything that seems good to us. If we’re serious about crossing the finish line we must set certain things aside and for too long we chosen to run in the “work race” or the “hobby race” or the “relationship with others race” and have tripped in God’s race in the process.

I’ll say it again, if we’re serious about crossing the finish line in God’s race, we must set certain things aside. Some of you are working way TOO much and way TOO hard. Not only is it affecting your relationships at home, but it’s harmful to the most important relationship you have – you and God. Yes work is good, and it does provide, but are you willing to set aside what is good (hours and hours of work) to have God’s best (the real Provider)? Slowing down and taking time off work (and that means your to-do list around the house as well) so that we can deepen our relationship with God is always worth it. We need to be sensitive to God’s direction. We need to “throw off” any excess baggage that interferes with our relationship with God, and for many of us, we’re working too much and too hard. We need to let go some of that kitchen sink (work) so that we can finish God’s race.

Because I’ll tell you this, He’s strong enough to carry the kitchen sink for you while you run. But how would you know if you’re still holding onto work instead of allowing God’s word to hold onto you? Chew on that. Good luck in the race.

Zach

October 28, 2009 Posted by | Zach | , | Leave a comment

10/28 1 Corinthians 1-3

Paul is writing to the church in Corinth.  In chapter 2 he writes about wisdom and where does it come from.  But he is talking about the wisdom of God and not that of man.  Today many people are touted as having great wisdom, but it certainly is not the wisdom Christians should be looking for.  Our wisdom comes from God.

6We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. 7No, we speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. 8None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9However, as it is written:
“No eye has seen,
no ear has heard,
no mind has conceived
what God has prepared for those who love him”

This Godly wisdom is revealed to us through his Spirit.  There is no other way for us to fathom it.  The world would have us believe that their wisdom is best for us and that this wisdom we receive from God is foolish, weak, and intolerant.  I think we know better.  Give me the wisdom from the creator the universe any day. Follow this link to keep reading

October 28, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

10/25 Romans 15-16

Paul finishes up his letter to the Romans with some prayers and instructions.  The first prayer is that the believers should be unified.  It seems that the different denominations today could take heart in this prayer of Paul’s.  The differences today surly reflect the need for more prayer on our part for unification.

5May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, 6so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul’s first instruction to the believers is to accept one another.  Again the unity theme.  Do you think that maybe Paul knew what could happen down the road?  Were different churches during Paul’s time already starting to believe differently?

7Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.

Paul again lifts up the believers asking that they be filled with all joy and peace.  Even to the point that their hope was overflowing by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Maybe I need to look a little harder for this filling and overflowing.  When was the last time we overflowed with hope?  Okay, I’ll pray for you and you pray for me to….., better yet let’s both pray for all Christians to be filled with all joy and peace.

13May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Paul’s last instruction in Chapter 16 is a word of caution to be on the look out for those that would divide.  Ever run into those type of people?  Just a few words out of their mouth and you can tell they love to stir up trouble.  Pit this one against that one.  Not fun is it.  Of course we never run into those type of people in church, right?

17I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them.

Well I guess that about finishes it for Romans.  Upward and onward to 1 Corinthians and it’s got the Love chapter in it.

October 27, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

10/26 Romans 12-14

Chapter 12 of Romans begins with Paul explaining how the body of Christ should function.  This explanation is manifested today in the church and Northside is a great example of that functioning body.  There are so many areas to serve and a great many different levels of commitment.

3For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. 4Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. 7If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; 8if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.

I think James puts it best in chapter 2:17 “In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” and also in verse 26 “As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.” As a Christian how are you using your God-given gifts to function as a member of the body of Christ?

So if you feel that your gifts are not being fully utilized for the kingdom, you need to contact Mark Williams.  I’m not exactly sure what all his responsibilities are, but based on his new title I would guess that getting you and me involved in kingdom work is a big part of it.  Don’t wait to be asked.  Take action.

October 26, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | 1 Comment

Human Emotion #6 Love

Here is my final examination of Human Emotions.  The last one is love.  Saved the best for last.  The definition of love from Wikipedia is:

Love is any of a number of emotions and experiences related to a sense of strong affection and attachment. The word love can refer to a variety of different feelings, states, and attitudes, ranging from generic pleasure (“I loved that meal”) to intense interpersonal attraction (“I love my boyfriend”). This diversity of uses and meanings, combined with the complexity of the feelings involved, makes love unusually difficult to consistently define, even compared to other emotional states.

As an abstract concept, love usually refers to a deep, ineffable feeling of tenderly caring for another person. Even this limited conception of love, however, encompasses a wealth of different feelings, from the passionate desire and intimacy of romantic love to the nonsexual emotional closeness of familial and platonic love to the profound oneness or devotion of religious love. Love in its various forms acts as a major facilitator of interpersonal relationships and, owing to its central psychological importance, is one of the most common themes in the creative arts.

Just about everyone experiences love either from someone or towards someone.  That of course is no different than the love we experience from God and towards God.  The biggest difference between our love for others and God’s love is that we tend to place conditions on our love, don’t we.  If someone hates us, do we love them.  If someone treats us bad, do we love them.  If someone doesn’t show us love, do we show them love. Follow this link to keep reading

October 25, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

10/24 Romans 10

Romans 10 lists two steps that each person must take in order to be saved.   First you must believe in your heart.  Not in your head.  If you try to logically prove that Jesus is the son of God and that God raised him from the dead, you will be forever looking for proof and evidence and will miss salvation.  Faith is belief, not proof.  Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Second, is that you believe enough to state publicly that Jesus is Lord.  Confess it before others and you will be saved.

8But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: 9That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

10For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. 11As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” 12For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, 13for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Do you know someone that is hung up on you proving to them that something happened over 2,000 years ago?  How do we overcome their need for hard evidence?  We don’t.  The best anyone can do is to present the Gospel message to them and then pray that God will soften their heart.  If you have completed part one then better get started on part two.  Pray.

October 24, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

10/23 Romans 7-9

We know we should turn of the TV and go walk a few miles on the treadmill, but the Yankees and Angels are playing right now.   We know we should be up early in the morning studying God’s word, but we hit the snooze button to many times because we were up late last night.  We know we should be giving more to the church but that flat screen LCD TV was on sale last month and it was too good of a deal to pass up.  Okay, now I get what Paul is talking about in chapter 7 about doing the opposite of what he wants to do.

14We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature.  For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

So I get it, let’s blame it on the sin and not take any responsibility for ourselves.  Nope I don’t think that is going to work.  It is our choice to avoid sin with help of the Holy Spirit.  Chapter 8 explains how.
Follow this link to keep reading

October 23, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

10/22 Romans 4-6

Paul starts chapter 5 with the fact that those who believe in Jesus Christ are justified by faith.  There comes that living by faith theme again.  Good thing I made a note for myself yesterday.  Then comes the harder part, rejoice in your sufferings.  When was the last we did that?  Maybe after the suffering is over, but I would imagine not during it.  The result of suffering is perseverance, that leads to character and then straight to hope.  Hope is a bee line to the love of God.

1Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. 3Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

I dare same many of us would die in place of a spouse or child, but hey not for the drug addict or the homeless person or someone we don’t even know.  But that is exactly what Jesus did.  He died for the best of us and the worst.  Most important, he died for us. Follow this link to keep reading

October 22, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

What if Jesus Facebooked? (Part 3)

October 21, 2009

50 days before our wedding, Whit and I fasted from all caffeine (soda, Starbucks, tea, Red Bull, you name it). We drank water and milk like they were they only things left on the planet. We chose the most hectic time of our lives to go without what we thought we needed to make it through the day – the god of caffeine. We wanted to start our marriage out on something more solid than a Grande Vanilla Chai; we wanted to begin our new life together on God’s foundation. Since then we’ve done the 50 day no caffeine fast a couple times and have been renewed that God gets us through the day, not caffeine.

You can fast from mostly anything – food, television, music, internet, being mean to people. I tried to fast from doing chores as a teenager, but failed to do so since my mother pointed out that it wasn’t biblical to fast from taking the trash out. I hope Robin’s sermon has triggered some things in your life that you’ve lately depended on more so than God. If so, it’s time to fast.

One of the great benefits of fasting from a meal is that it forces you to reflect on your life. We’re all so busy, so packed full in our schedules that we go from work to family to hobbies to errands to church and back to work again that we never, ever, ever sit down to meditate on what God may be trying to do in our lives.

But when you fast, when you take that lunch and make it just for God and you, and choose to not eat physical food, but open up your Bible and eat on God’s wisdom – that’s when He’ll open your eyes to what He’s been trying to do in your life. And then for the rest of the day, when your stomach growls (it will), you can be reminded that God is your strength, not food.

Honestly I think most of us don’t fast, and yet most of us would deepen our relationship with God if we chose to fast a meal once a week. Start doing that and then maybe you’ll be crazy enough to give up caffeine for a while.

Zach

October 21, 2009 Posted by | Zach | , | 4 Comments