Yesterday Must be Eclipsed

March 20, 2018 at 11:58 am | Posted in I Corinthians, V.I.C.T.O.R.Y. | 2 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;
I.mmortality must be entered into;
C.orruption must be eliminated;
T.hankfulness must be expressed;
O.pportunity must be embraced;
R.eality must be encountered;
and
Yesterday must be eclipsed.

The past should not be ignored, but it must be kept in the shadow of what is to come if we are to be victorious. Past failures and sins can’t be denied, but they can be covered with the light of the Truth about 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 15:58

We must be steadfast, meaning faithful, and unmovable, meaning stubborn about standing on the Word of God. We must be abounding – going further AND farther – challenging ourselves to do more for Christ, and to overcome our fears and the things that make us uncomfortable. We must know that what we are doing for Him is not vain – it does make a difference in eternity.

This is the antidote to the worldly philosophy – especially highlighted in Ecclesiastes – that nothing really, ultimately matters – that what happened before is going to happen again. No, the past is in the past, and it must be eclipsed by our hope in the future victory and in the battle for victory that we are waging right now.

 

Reality Must be Encountered

February 20, 2018 at 4:01 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;
I.mmortality must be entered into;
C.orruption must be eliminated;
T.hankfulness must be expressed;
O.pportunity must be embraced;
and
Reality must be encountered.

The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.

I Corinthians 15:56

Face the facts: Death is in the world. It is coming for every one of us. It is here because of sinOUR sin. And our sin is shown clearly by the Law.

That’s the strongest effect of the Law – it highlights our sin. We need to face that fact, and we need to encounter it – deal with it, talk to our friends and others about it. The opportunities that people have to trust Christ – and the opportunities we have to work for Him – are limited. The Gospel is the Good News, but the Good News isn’t good news without the bad news. You can’t get the victory over something you’re not willing to face.

Next time we will see that yesterday must be eclipsed.

Opportunity Must be Embraced

February 14, 2018 at 2:34 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;
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 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.

Thankfulness Must be Expressed

February 6, 2018 at 4:33 pm | Posted in I Corinthians, V.I.C.T.O.R.Y. | 5 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. | 6 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 take 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.

Immortality Must be Entered Into

January 22, 2018 at 4:23 pm | Posted in I Corinthians, V.I.C.T.O.R.Y. | 9 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. | 7 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.

Beware the Frustrated Fixation

September 14, 2015 at 3:12 pm | Posted in The Fives | 2 Comments
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John, in a revelation like no other, had seen wondrous, dramatic, emotional, and frightening things. But he had also seen the partial unfolding of God’s miraculous plan of redemption. Completely fixated upon the idea of seeing the culmination of God’s will in Heaven and on Earth, he saw with great hope a book which would reveal even more of God’s glory to him. But, alas, his hope was turned to despair upon realizing that the book was bound with a seal, and that no one was worthy to open this seal!

And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof? And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon.

Revelation 5:2-3

John’s reaction was to break down weeping.

And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon.

Revelation 5:4

Only a truly unique and a truly supreme being would be capable of breaking this seal and opening this book. He would have to be both Almighty and all-worthy God, while at the same time being perfect, sinless, and guiltless man. It seems to some a paradox beyond resolution. How easy it is for us to fall into sorrowing and hopelessness – to think that this world is spinning out of control and has us overmatched! How easily we weep in our fixation and false belief that the purposes of our God have somehow been frustrated.

One of the elders gave John the hint, but it wasn’t until he looked for himself that saw the divine solution: the One Who was both Lion of Judah and Lamb of God!

And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof. And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.

Revelation 5:5-6

The purpose and will of God would not be frustrated, for this holy Lamb had been slain, yet He lived. He was truly worthy beyond measure – not only to take the book… not only to open the book… not only to unleash the judgments and fulfilled prophecies contained in the book… not only to induce the rightful worship which God alone deserves… but to sit upon the throne of the Most High! To rule and reign and to fulfill all the promises made from the beginning, to the glory of the Father and to the everlasting joy of all His people! Praise His name forever!

And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.

Revelation 5:11-13

Careless Love – Part 1

April 7, 2010 at 8:52 am | Posted in Bible Studies | 6 Comments
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But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity.

Philippians 4:10

God providentially placed a desire in the heart of the believers in the church of Philippi to meet the needs of the Apostle Paul. Paul is telling them, “You have always loved me. You have been ‘careful’ (full of care) for me. It’s just that, until now, you cared, but you lacked the opportunity.” This reminds me of how, many times, in our love for God, we are not full of care.

We say we don’t have the opportunity, but is the problem really that we don’t have the concern? “Careful” is the Bible word for “worried.” What is causing you to worry right now? That you don’t have enough time to do the things in your schedule? Or that you are not taking time to get alone with the Lord? I am afraid that, as 21st Century believers, we are careless with God’s love.

That may be because we don’t fully realize how much He loves us. Song of Solomon is thought by some to be only a book about the relationship or the love between a man and a woman, a husband and a wife. But God created this love, and all His creations contain lessons about Him. All His creations contain lessons about His relationship to His people, about the relationship between Christ and His Church.

Song of Solomon is a book of poetry in which different voices speak in the first person. This is the king speaking to his bride, and it is also our King’s message of love to us:

Come with me from Lebanon, my spouse, with me from Lebanon: look from the top of Amana, from the top of Shenir and Hermon, from the lions’ dens, from the mountains of the leopards.

Song of Solomon 4:8

First of all, it’s a call to come down from the high places – from the monuments and edifices we’ve built in our lives to draw us away from time with God. These include not only the material hobbies and pleasures and pursuits of this world, but even the “good” things we do, such as our devotion time, our church time, our ministry time. It is as if God is saying, “’Come down’ and spend time with Me.”

When is the last time you completely shut out all distractions and went somewhere no one could see you – and where you truly determined to seek God’s presence?

“Come down from your high places.” This will be necessary for me to have the power of God abide on my life – to teach, to witness, to love, to pray, with the power of the Holy Spirit. I can say all the right things, go to all the right places, but without the power of God abiding upon me personally, I will live a defeated life.

I can’t explain why God would love me – the way a lovesick king longs for time alone with his bride – but His Word says He does.

Second, Song of Solomon 4:8 is a warning that our “high places” are not only keeping us from spending time alone with God, but also that they are dangerous places.

Come with me from Lebanon, my spouse, with me from Lebanon: look from the top of Amana, from the top of Shenir and Hermon, from the lions’ dens, from the mountains of the leopards.

Song of Solomon 4:8

These mountains of Lebanon looked like mighty strongholds, but they were really the mountains of leopards. There were lions’ dens. How dangerous it is to get too far from God’s Word and God’s will!

Lions are out to devour. Our enemy, the devil, is not afraid of the sheep. He is only afraid of the Shepherd.

Furthermore, God wants us to stay near him. If we are truly His children, He will rescue us if we cry out, but what scars will we bear from being attacked? “Stay near Me,” God says. “Come away from Lebanon, the high mountains where the lions’ dens are.”

Once, I was at a skating rink where we were having a children’s church activity, and one of the children went missing. Her mother was terrified. Several of us began searching, and I happened to find the little girl, upstairs, in a dark room where parents could watch television. She was reluctant to come with me, so I wanted to pick her up because the quicker I could show her frantic mother she was safe, the better. However, she kicked and screamed and howled for me to put her down all the way down the stairs. How often God wants to hold us in His arms, but we don’t want to be carried – we want to get down and play. Lord, help us to trust in You and Your loving arms which carry us away from danger even when we think we’re having fun.

Eternal Security Does Not Have an Expiration Date

January 22, 2010 at 9:45 am | Posted in Eternity, I Peter | 9 Comments
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We go to great lengths to make food last longer. We put preservatives, such as salt, in it. We refrigerate or even freeze it. We wrap it in foil. We seal it up tight in a Zip-Lock bag. Ultimately, however, food, unless completely consumed, is going to spoil. In common vernacular, it just won’t “keep.”

Thankfully, though, we serve a Lord Who is mightier, stronger, and more dependable than the tightest Zip-Lock bag and the coldest deep freeze. For all those who come to Christ Jesus, and are washed by His blood, His power saves us, and His power “keeps” us.

Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

I Peter 1:5

Jesus Christ redeemed born-again believers from the worst source of corruption of all time: sin. He did this by taking on the sins of all His people in His body, and bearing those sins on the Cross of Calvary.

Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.

I Peter 2:24

Those sins included not just sins which had been committed up until that time, but sins which were committed since then, and even sins being committed today.

God’s power over sin is such that forgiven sinners may never be rejected of God. They will never be eternally “spoiled” by sin. Therefore, we must remember to take advantage of our access to this power, and to remember that we are part of God’s family, and to therefore live victoriously over sin in our own lives first.

For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?

I Peter 4:17

It is a great privilege to be “kept” by God’s power. Let us not abuse our position by acting “spoiled.”


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