Opportunity Must be Embraced

February 14, 2018 at 2:34 pm | Posted in I Corinthians, V.I.C.T.O.R.Y. | 1 Comment
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The victory that Christ has achieved for us means that, as we live for Him in this temporal world:

V.anity must be expelled;
I.mmortality must be entered into;
C.orruption must be eliminated;
T.hankfulness must be expressed;
and
Opportunity must be embraced.

O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?

I Corinthians 15:55

But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

I Corinthians 15:57-58

The fear of death, combated by thankfulness to God, gives rise to the opportunity for faithfulness and service. The “work of the Lord” is work that always needs to be done, and not grudgingly – like a kid having to clean up his room – but joyfully, like packing to go on vacation. A child might be “willing” to do his homework, but he will EMBRACE the opportunity to ride a a rollercoaster (even if it means waiting in line for an hour). Knowing that we have the opportunity to win in this life ought to make fighting in the fight joyful.

Next time we will see that reality must be encountered.

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Did Moses Die?

February 12, 2018 at 3:16 pm | Posted in Q&A | Leave a comment
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Question: Why do some people say that Moses didn’t die?

Answer: I think it has to do with his appearance on the Mount of Transfiguration (Luke 9:28-31). Peter, James, and John went up a mountain with Jesus and saw Him talking with Moses and the prophet Elijah. Enoch (Genesis 5:24) and Elijah (II Kings 2:11) were the only people to be taken up to Heaven without dying a physical death here on earth. So, some people assume that, since Elijah appeared with Moses in the New Testament, that Moses must not have died, either. However, this flies directly in the face of Scripture because Deuteronomy Chapter 34, Verses 5-7 specifically say that Moses died.

An interesting side note is that Moses died while he was still very strong and in good health (at the age of 120!) He was alone with the Lord when he died, and the Lord personally buried him. Later on, in Jude v.9, we find out that Satan wanted to take possession of Moses’s body, but Michael the archangel fought him off.

What Do You Have to Do with God?

February 8, 2018 at 3:16 pm | Posted in Luke | Leave a comment
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And in the synagogue there was a man, which had a spirit of an unclean devil, and cried out with a loud voice,

Luke 4:33

The description “unclean devil” sounds redundant, but Luke the physician was interested in the cause of illness.

Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art; the Holy One of God. And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him. And when the devil had thrown him in the midst, he came out of him, and hurt him not.

Luke 4:34-35

Jesus sometimes warned others against making a proclamation about Who He truly was during His earthly ministry. Satan, whether or not he knew that Jesus’s great act of salvation would come “in the fullness of time” and that He was on a God-ordained schedule as He headed toward the Cross, did seem to have a desire to see Jesus arrested by the religious authorities sooner rather than later. Therefore, Jesus rebuked the demons to stop them from calling Him “the Holy One of God,” although that’s Who He truly was.

Their question, “What have we to do with thee?” was a plea to postpone their inevitable judgment, but the way it is worded in our English translation makes it sound to our modern ears like a challenge for us to consider how we are to interact with Him. In one sense, it sounds like what we say when we don’t want to be bothered by someone else: “I don’t want to have anything to do with you.” But in the other sense it sounds like we have a problem to deal with: “Now, young man, what am I going to do with you?” Let’s take a brief look at three times in Scripture when similar wording is used.

What do you “have to do do” with God?

1. You have to live in His presence and to give an account of your life to Him.

Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.

Hebrews 4:13

2. You have to give an account to your loved ones of why you love Him and fear Him.

And if we have not rather done it for fear of this thing, saying, In time to come your children might speak unto our children, saying, What have ye to do with the LORD God of Israel?

Joshua 22:24

The was a dispute between the tribes of Israel over an altar, and the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and half of Manasseh protested their innocence and appealed to their future posterity as proof that they recognized their part of the Covenant with God. The people you go to church with know you (hopefully), and the people you work with know you, and your neighbors and the parents of your kids’ friends know you, but nobody (except God) knows you like your family. If someone asked your kids, “What does your dad ‘have to do with God?’” (and you weren’t there to monitor the answer) what would they say? If someone asked your spouse, “What does your spouse ‘have to do with God?'” (and you weren’t there to monitor the answer) what would he or she say?

3. You have to tremble before His holiness.

Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God.

Mark 1:24

Thankfulness Must be Expressed

February 6, 2018 at 4:33 pm | Posted in I Corinthians, V.I.C.T.O.R.Y. | 2 Comments
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The victory achieved by Christ for His people is sure, but its ultimate fulfillment is yet to be experienced. For that to happen, these things must occur:

V.anity must be expelled.
I.mmortality must be entered into.
C.orruption must be eliminated.
and
Thankfulness must be expressed.

But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

I Corinthians 15:57

The quickest way to lose our thankfulness, and to be discontented and dissatisfied, is to stop giving thanks. God does not owe us the victory. It is a gift of His grace, and He is perfectly entitled to our gratitude.

It has become very fashionable recently for famous athletes to thank God after winning a game.

athlete giving thanks to God.png

I won’t pretend to know how sincere they are when doing this, nor what their particular ideas of “God” may be in each case, but I can’t fault them for the idea. It certainly makes sense to give thanks to Him, but, if you are thankful to God (and should we ever be!), then don’t dilute it by saying, “Thank God!” flippantly, or by saying, “Thank God it’s Friday,” when God is the last thing on your mind as you enter the weekend, or by saying, “Thank You, Jesus, I thought that fool would never shut up!” when you are exasperated. Make sure you are sincere, but, being sincere, DO be expressive. Thankfulness reminds us that our victory is not really ours, but His.

Next time we will see that opportunity must be embraced.

Corruption Must be Eliminated

January 31, 2018 at 3:51 pm | Posted in I Corinthians, V.I.C.T.O.R.Y. | 3 Comments
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The victory achieved by Christ for His people is sure, but its ultimate fulfillment is yet to be experienced. For that to happen, these things must occur:

V.anity must be expelled.
I.mmortality must be entered into.
and
C.orruption must be eliminated.

Everything physical in this world is corrupt. Because it is subject to the effects of sin, it is decaying. Our bodies are decaying. However, our bodies are important to Christ, so we need to care of them.

For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.

I Corinthians 15:53-54

If you are a Christian, sin does not terminate your relationship with God. But there is a sense in which it affects your fellowship with Him. It also affects your mental abilities, and it can (and often does) affect your physical health. One day our bodies won’t be subject to sickness, pain, disease, and death, but, in this world, we need to avoid things that lead to corruption and make it so that we can’t serve Christ with energy. Sin is the main thing that does this.

Next time we will see that thankfulness must be expressed.

The Foolishness of God?

January 29, 2018 at 10:41 am | Posted in I Corinthians, Q&A | Leave a comment
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Question: If the Bible is true, how can it mention the terms “foolishness of God” and “weakness of God” in I Corinthians 1:25? God is not foolish or weak.

Answer: I Corinthians 1:25 is part of a type of argument called a rhetorical argument. The Holy Spirit was using the Apostle Paul to point out, from the point of view of the worldly philosophy used by the Greeks of that day, that to preach that Jesus died on the Cross for our salvation would seem “foolish.” The Greeks and the Jews both thought the Christians were “foolish,” and they that they themselves were “wise.” But, if you follow the argument on through Verse 29, you can see that God specifically chose things that seem foolish to people who are proud in their “wisdom” to demonstrate His greatness. Preaching the crucified and resurrected Lord seems silly to people who are proud of their own “wisdom” and works, so God uses this to humble them, so that they will bow down and worship Him alone, admitting that He is wiser than them. That’s one of the failings of the false “works-based” religions, such as Islam, Mormonism, and Roman Catholicism. They do exactly what verse 29 says we must never do: try to “glory” or show off our goodness or our good deeds before God. Any “god” who would accept daily prayers and pilgrimages and fasting and dietary restrictions and so forth as bribes or payments to be placed on the cosmic scales of justice is a false god. Men have invented these false deities, claiming that their gods would accept the “glorying of the flesh (human beings)” in their presence. The real God will not.

The Scandal of Jesus’s Shocking Message and Ministry

January 25, 2018 at 3:39 pm | Posted in Luke | 1 Comment
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Jesus began to teach in the synagogues and to get famous. Then He went back to His home town.

And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read.

Luke 4:16

It was common at the local synagogues for a visiting rabbi to take on the task of teaching the week’s lesson.

And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.

Luke 4:17-19

The Gospel is for everyone, but Jesus came to preach it – during His earthly ministry – specifically to the brokenhearted, the captives, the blind, and the bruised.

And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him.

Luke 4:20

The Jewish scholars in attendance and even the regular congregants familiar with the writings of the prophets would have recognized the passage that we call Isaiah 61:1-2. You can almost sense their anticipation, as they wait for what comes next: “Okay, Jesus of Nazareth, what are you going to do with that text?”

And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.

Luke 4:21

How astonished they must have been! “He’s saying that prophecy is all about him!”

And all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth. And they said, Is not this Joseph’s son?

Luke 4:22

Perhaps they thought, “That’s absurd! We KNOW him! He can’t be the Messiah!”

People who think they’re okay don’t want to hear about a Savior, but those who are hopeless, helpless, and huntedTHEY want to hear about a Savior.

But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land; But unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow.

Luke 4:25-26

To emphasize Jesus’s ministry to the outcasts of Jewish society, He used the example of God’s ministry through the prophet Elijah to someone who was a: (1) woman; (2) gentile; (3) widow. Then, He pointed to Elisha’s healing of a gentile leper.

And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian.

Luke 4:27

What was the reaction of the synagogue’s leaders to the kindness and compassion and mercy and goodness of God? They wanted to kill Him!

And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, And rose up, and thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong. But he passing through the midst of them went his way,

Luke 4:28-30

And in the synagogue there was a man, which had a spirit of an unclean devil, and cried out with a loud voice, Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art; the Holy One of God. And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him. And when the devil had thrown him in the midst, he came out of him, and hurt him not.

Luke 4:33-35

We start to get a picture very early on in Jesus’s ministry of one of the reasons that the Jewish religious leaders were so offended by Him. He advocated helping gentiles, women, widows, lepers, and demon-possessed people. To whom would He minister next? “Before you know it,” they must have thought, “Jesus will want to save gang members, pedophiles, people with different skin colors, serial killers, maybe even liberal politicians and activists!”

Immortality Must be Entered Into

January 22, 2018 at 4:23 pm | Posted in I Corinthians, V.I.C.T.O.R.Y. | 4 Comments
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The victory that Christ has achieved for us means that, as we live for Him in this temporal world:

V.anity must be expelled.
and
I.mmortality must be entered into.

For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

I Corinthians 15:53-58

Christ died to redeem the souls of His people. However, our bodies are important to Him also, so we need to take care of them – while remembering that something supernatural will have to happen to them if they are to be changed from mortal to immortal. Just as our souls have received eternal life, so will our bodies be given an immortal state when they are glorified at the return of Christ. Things that are spiritually empty – lacking true value – not impacting eternity – not advancing the Kingdom of Christ – need to be exchanged. This is one reason why physical exercise (which keeps our bodies healthy and in better condition to serve our Lord) is better than playing video games. It is why reading a book (which strengthens our mortal mind) is better than four hours of snapchatting cat videos.

Next time we will see that corruption must be eliminated.

Vanity Must be Expelled

January 12, 2018 at 3:28 pm | Posted in I Corinthians, V.I.C.T.O.R.Y. | 4 Comments
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For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

I Corinthians 15:53-58

Victory in this life is never “final.” The winner of the national championship this year will have to start from scratch next year. “All-time world records” eventually get broken. Nations rise, and nations fall. Even in our personal lives, the joy of overcoming problems is a temporary joy, replaced in time by the onset of some new problem. However, as Christians, we are called to live “victorious” Christian lives, winning the battle against our three main enemies: the devil, the world, and our as-yet-unredeemed flesh. One day, Jesus, Who won the victory over these on the Cross and in His Resurrection, will manifest this victory so that we who are in Him will experience that victory fully, and now, in this life, although we can’t achieve a “final” victory, we can live more and more victoriousLY each day.

Recently I studied and taught through the book of I Corinthians, and one thing that surprised me was how much of it is devoted to dealing with our physical bodies. One reason for this is that an early attempt at corrupting Christianity, known as Gnosticism, was prevalent on the scene during the Apostle Paul’s ministry. Gnostics were attracted to Christianity because Christianity does in fact emphasize the spiritual. Gnostics had the idea that spiritual things were good and material things were bad, but they failed (or refused) to see that true Christianity stresses the importance of the physical as well as the spiritual.

A superficial and vain view of the importance of our physical bodies must be expelled in favor of a balanced realization that our physical, material bodies are important to God in this life, and that He has plans for them in the life to come, if we are to truly live victoriously on our way to the ultimate victory which is yet to come.

Next time we will see that the second step to victory is entering into immortality.

Old Testament Prayer

January 5, 2018 at 10:59 am | Posted in Q&A | Leave a comment
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Question: In Exodus Moses talks to God and relays messages back and forth between God and the people. Did people in the Old Testament pray in the way that we do?

Answer: That’s a really good question that forces us to think about the nature of prayer. We know that people prayed in the Old Testament, even before Exodus. Two notable examples are Abraham in Genesis 20:17 and Abraham’s servant in Genesis 24:12-14. After Exodus the Old Testament is replete with all kinds of prayers in all kinds of situations. Many of the Psalms are in the form of prayers, although sin could always serve as a hindrance to prayer (Psalm 66:18).

It is possible that in Exodus 2:24-25 when God heard the “groaning” of the Israelites in their bondage in Egypt that this groaning was a type of call to God for help, but it is also possible that, after hundreds of years in Egypt, the people had forgotten about Abraham’s God and did not practice prayer. It may be that through the ministry of Moses and the priesthood the practice of praying to the one true God was reinstated.

Your reference to Moses, though, is especially astute, because it reminds us that, while Moses interceded with God on behalf of the people, under the New Testament we have a better Intercessor (Romans 8:34) and Mediator (I Timothy 2:5) that allows us to call upon the Lord in His Name freely whenever we want (Hebrews 4:14-16).

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