Archive for March, 2012

Treated Like the World’s Garbage – 1 Corinthians 4

Wow again.

Paul is really bothered by these Corinthians. Their pride and arrogance really gets under his last nerve. But he’s to remain calm and kind. As a matter of fact, he pretty much lays out what it’s like to be a dedicated follower of Jesus Christ:

11 Even now we go hungry and thirsty, and we don’t have enough clothes to keep warm. We are often beaten and have no home. 12 We work wearily with our own hands to earn our living. We bless those who curse us. We are patient with those who abuse us. 13 We appeal gently when evil things are said about us. Yet we are treated like the world’s garbage, like everybody’s trash—right up to the present moment.

I’ve said it before – I guess things haven’t changed much. Being a true Christian in America today provides the same set of rewards (and it’s getting worse). But, as Paul says in verse 3: “As for me, it matters very little how I might be evaluated by you or by any human authority.” We are only to live as Christ directs us to, not the world.

I love how he warns those who are all talk and no action:

18 Some of you have become arrogant, thinking I will not visit you again. 19 But I will come—and soon—if the Lord lets me, and then I’ll find out whether these arrogant people just give pretentious speeches or whether they really have God’s power. 20 For the Kingdom of God is not just a lot of talk; it is living by God’s power.

Lord, let me live out my life for the Kingdom of God today, not just in words. Fill me with Your power.

peace,

e

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Milking the Rewards – 1 Corinthians 3

What a smack. In 1 Corinthians chapter 3, Paul basically told this church they need to grow up.

The people of the church there were arguing about who to follow, Paul or Apollos. Truth is they both of them follow Jesus. Paul was admonishing them to quit quarreling and just follow Jesus. It doesn’t matter who brought them the message first, the message is what’s important.

Being a worship leader, I have worship services on my mind, so I thought this is very much like arguing over styles of music. Some in our church have voiced their opinion that church music should be only hymns and traditional music. Others have voiced their opinion that that “old music” is boring and the church will die if we keep holding on to them.

It doesn’t matter what type of music the message is in – it’s the message that’s important!

I guess some things never change. I wonder what Paul would write about today.

The foundation is laid, and that’s our relationship with Jesus Christ. How we build upon it, with things that last (gold, silver, jewels) or things that won’t (wood, hay, straw), is up to us.

I find it interesting that Paul continuously mentions “reward”. In verse 8, he talks about how he and Apollos will be rewarded:

“The one who plants and the one who waters work together with the same purpose. And both will be rewarded for their own hard work.”

Then in verse 14, he shows us how we will be rewarded if we have built upon the foundation with things that will last:

“If the work survives, that builder will receive a reward.”

He talks about this in other places, too. Leaders in my past have discouraged this reward mentality when it comes to our Christianity. However, I believe it is something we must all be aware of. There are rewards for doing the right things. Paul mentions this over and over in his writings. I am particularly motivated by rewards. I think most people are. It gives me something to strive for – something to plan and do and win. I will meditate on this today.

Have a rewarding day!
e

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Freedom from the Powers of this World – Colossians 2

You can hear Paul’s concern and love for this church at Colossae.

It’s really not rocket science. I love how Paul puts it simply:

And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. (vs 6-7)

And, just like with Paul’s letters to other churches, this letter warns against false teaching and religious rules.

If God’s word says it once, we need to obey. But this whole idea of freedom in Christ is preached over and over and over again – especially by Paul. Afterall, he was once one of the most highly regarded of the religious establishment. Perhaps thats why he is so adamant about it.

Bottom line is: don’t waste time and effort following what man says – but rather focus on what God is telling you to do/not do. It’s not about looking righteous, it’s about spiritual battle. We need to focus on what will help us in conquering our evil desires and building our lives on Christ.

So what do we do that makes us feel righteous? Do we do things in order to appear religious? Do our thoughts during worship include “I wonder what people will think if I raise my hands during worship” or “look at that person over there, thinking they are so righteous by raising their hands during worship”? Do we care more about what others will think before we start to talk about Jesus or church with someone at work or in the grocery line? What things do we do hoping someone is watching so we will appear religious?

Do we have complete freedom or do we still try to follow socially or politically correct human rules? I like what Paul says in verses 20 – 23:

You have died with Christ, and he has set you free from the spiritual powers of this world. So why do you keep on following the rules of the world, such as, “Don’t handle! Don’t taste! Don’t touch!”? Such rules are mere human teachings about things that deteriorate as we use them. These rules may seem wise because they require strong devotion, pious self-denial, and severe bodily discipline. But they provide no help in conquering a person’s evil desires.

He has set us free from the powers of this world. That’s something to focus on today.

peace,
e

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