Category: Pauline epistles–BibleTrekToday

New Creation Realities!

Scripture reading for November 27th: 2nd Corinthians 1-5

Many Christians don’t realize who they really are in Christ.  They struggle with low self-esteem and feelings of inferiority. They try to be different and keep the rules or commandments but always fail or fall short. “Try harder!”, some well-meaning saints encourage!   But the harder they try, the more frustrated they become. The secret is in knowing who we are in Christ.

When we are truly ‘born again’, we are transformed inside by the Holy Spirit into new creations. (John 3:3-8) (2nd Corinthians 5:17)   As God blew breath into Adam and he became a living being, so the breath of God comes into us by the Holy Spirit and we become alive to God!  We haven’t just added a set of rules to live by.  We don’t just learn a creed of ethics that makes us different from other religions.  We don’t just go to church and sing songs and learn traditions.  Our life is brand new at it’s core, in our heart and spirit! We now have an eternal relationship with Father, Son (Jesus Christ) and Holy Spirit.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!  All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them.  And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation.  We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us.  We implore you on Christ’s behalf:  Be reconciled to God.  God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2nd Corinthians 5:17-21

We have a new identity!  The new creation that is formed in us by the Holy Spirit is reconciled to God.  We are no longer cut off from Him by sin.  God did this work of reconciliation at the cross.  He put our sins on His Son and the Son paid the penalty. We are adopted into God’s family and given the task of appealing to others on Christ’s behalf.   Our position is “ambassador” of Christ.  We are to implore men and women to be reconciled to God.  We have a divine purpose and our identity is with Christ instead of self and sin.  Low self-esteem is an old thing that is vanquished!  The new has come and is from God!

What a blessing to be forgiven!  What freedom to know eternal life and a relationship with our heavenly Father!  These new creation realities must be appropriated by faith and lived out daily.  Our God is for us and now we are for Him!  Appropriate your “ambassador” status today and implore someone you know to be reconciled to God through Jesus Christ!  It’s who you really are and your divine purpose!

Tags : , , , ,

Raised from the Dead!

Scripture reading for November 26th: 1st Corinthians 15-16

One of the stumbling blocks for intellectuals is the resurrection.  This was so in the Corinthian culture of the early church.  The resurrection is foreign to anything our mind can truly understand.  Death seems to the natural eye to be irreversible.  Doctors can treat a person, but they can’t keep them from dying, and raising someone from the dead so that he will never die has not yet happened.  The Apostle Paul addresses the subject of resurrection in our reading today.

“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: That Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, He appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.” (1st Corinthians 15:3-6)

At the heart of the Gospel message is Christ’s resurrection.  First Jesus appeared to Mary at the tomb. (John 20:13-18)   Then Peter saw the Lord and then the Twelve, minus Judas, so Him (Mark 16:14)  The two disciples saw Him on the road to Emmaus. (Luke 24:31-32) Thomas got to put his fingers in the holes of Jesus resurrected body and became a believer. (John 20:26-28) Finally, Jesus appeared to over 500 brothers at the same time!  (1st Corinthians 15:16)  Christ’s resurrection was well documented.  These men were either lying or telling the truth.  If they were lying, many of them went to their death rather than change their story!

Not only has Christ been raised from the dead, but all who believe in Him will also be raised from the dead!  Resurrection is a key truth of the Christian faith.  Christ’s resurrection guarantees our resurrection, if we are trusting in Him.  “But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.  For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man.  For in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.” (1st Corinthians 15:20-22)

Our resurrection is like the planting of a seed.  A seed goes into the ground and dies.  At the proper time, the seed germinates and a new plant comes up.  It is not like the seed that was sown.  So is the resurrection body.  Our body is sown in weakness and decay; it will be raised in glory.  It is sown as perishable.  It will be raised eternal and imperishable!  It was sown a natural body, going back to dust.  It will be raised a spiritual body that lives forever! (1st Corinthians 15:42-44)

This change will happen at the “last trumpet”!  In a split second, the perishable body will be changed into an imperishable eternal body.  Death will be swallowed up by victory in Christ’s eternal life!  What a glorious day that will be!  It is the hope of every true believer!

Tags : , , , , ,

The Way of Love!

Scripture reading for November 25th: 1st Corinthians 11-14

Many people get excited about the spiritual gifts.  God gives each person gifts through the Holy Spirit that are to be used to build up the body of Christ.  (1st Corinthians 12:7)  These gifts may be characterized in three general categories.  There are those gifts that impart knowledge–word of wisdom, word of knowledge and prophesy.  Other gifts are used to do something: gifts of healing, miraculous powers, and faith.  Another type of gift is used to reveal something: discerning of spirits, tongues, and interpretation of tongues.  These gifts are given by the Lord through the Holy Spirit as He determines they are needed.  (1st Corinthians 12:11)

In addition to these manifestations of the Spirit, God has also appointed different offices to people to help with the work of ministry.  Some are apostles, sent to evangelize and plant churches.  Others are prophets and teachers who equip the body for ministry.  Others work miracles and facilitate divine healing.  Others may be good at administration and management.  Still others speak in tongues and others interpret.  (1st Corinthians 12:28-31)  God places these gift-people in the body just as He sees fit!  (1st Corinthians 12:18)

We are encouraged to eagerly desire the greater gifts!  But Paul cites the most excellent pursuit–the way of love! (1st Corinthians 13)  We can have any number of the gifts, but without love they are empty and useless.  Love is a vital ingredient because the gifts must be used with love and compassion.  God’s heart is to love and heal, not just to do something!  God Himself is love!  He is patient and kind with us.  He is not easily angered, but is always ready to forgive.  He forgives and never keeps a record of the wrongs done !  He delights in truth and righteousness.  He is a God of hope and His love never fails!

He encourages us to love like He does.  We must grow up in our faith in order to do that.  Love is the greatest gift that we can ever have and give!  We must first follow the way of love and then desire the gifts.  (1st Corinthians 14:1)  Take time today to check your heart.  Are you following the way of love?  How’s your love life with God?  Are you taking time to love Him and allowing His love to flow through you?  Would people say that you were full of the love of God?  Invite the Holy Spirit to release a fresh ability to love others in your heart today.

Tags : , , , ,

Learning By Example!

Scripture reading for November 24th:  1st Corinthians 7-10

I chose my life theme from going through Army officer’s leadership school.  A key leadership principle that stuck with me was “Set the Example!”  I was taught that one of the most powerful influences that a leader can have on others is their example.  I find this to be biblical as well.  Jesus Christ modeled for us and his disciples the way to live.  He lived a life centered on doing God’s will and serving others.   The Bible records many examples that are not so good as well.  Someone has said, “if you are not good for anything else, you can always be a bad example!”  In today’s reading the Apostle Paul reminds the church at Corinth of examples that should help them and us to live a blessed life.

In 1st Corinthians 10, Paul uses the bad examples as warning for us today.  There were three main things that Paul exhorted the Corinthians to remember about the Israelites of the Old Testament.  They had some great spiritual experiences with the Lord leading them by the cloud and fire and taking them through the Red Sea in a type of baptism.  They got to eat “manna” from heaven and drink water from the “Rock” for forty years while they wandered in the desert.  They had God’s appointed leader, Moses, praying for them.  However, God was not pleased with them!  (1st Corinthians 10:1-5)

In spite of being supernaturally delivered by God from idolatrous Egypt, many of them brought their idols with them!  They were taught by God to be true to their wives and to Him, but many were sexually immoral as they worshiped these idols and lived in fleshly indulgence.  Most grumbled against God and His provision and died from the bite of poisonous snakes and by the destroying angel of death that they had opened the door to.  Their hearts were not right with God in spite of all the supernatural power that they witnessed.  They thought they were alright with God because of God’s blessings.  They became examples for us!

We should learn from their example. (1st Corinthians 10:8-10)  They did not keep God first.  Idolatry and sexual immorality always go hand in hand.  America is a land of idols!  Sports stars, entertainment figures, soap operas, movie stars, popular music stars and the like all serve as idols.  We are sexually immoral and glorify sexual freedom that mocks God and His word because we are idolatrous!  The church is even full of idolatrous behavior and sexual immorality!

Grumbling against God because of unbelief was also a characteristic of the Israelites.  That grumbling kept them out of the land of promise and got a whole generation killed off in the desert.  The destroying angel, Satan, killed them because of their greed, idolatry, and sexually perversion.  These examples should warn us today and drive us to Christ Jesus.  He is our escape from sin, death and temptation.  He is always faithful and delivers those who depend on Him!

Tags : , , , , , ,

The Message of the Cross

Scripture reading for November 23rd: 1st Corinthians 1-6

To educated people, Christ and the cross seems to be a foolish idea.  It doesn’t make sense to the natural mind trained to trust senses, self, and science.  It is not logical or even believable to many who have college degrees and have embraced modern secular humanism. To these people, religion is fine, but the cross is offensive!  They are strong enough to handle life by themselves and want to live it up while they can.   But God chose the foolish things of this world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong! (1st Corinthians 1:27)

The message of the cross is a message of God’s wrath against sin.  God has decreed that the soul that sins must die.  (Romans 6:23) Jesus Christ took the wages of man’s sin upon Himself and was beaten, mocked, spit upon, ridiculed, and crucified as a common criminal.  Isaiah says that we considered Him “stricken by God, smitten by Him, and afflicted.” (Isaiah 53:4)  The punishment that we deserved fell upon Him and by His stripes we are healed!  (Isaiah 53:5)  God’s wrath was directed against His own Son, that we might be free from that wrath! (2nd Corinthians 5:21)

The message of the cross tells of God’s love for us who are made in His image.  God Himself being willing to send His only Son to earth just to die in our place tells the greatest love story ever told!  “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13)  He demonstrated His love for us in that Christ died for us while we were yet sinners!  (Romans 5:8)  God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever would believe on Him would not perish, but have eternal life!  (John 3:16)

The message of the cross demands repentance and faith.  We must turn from our self-centered ways and look to Jesus Christ for salvation and forgiveness of sin.  This message is the power of God for salvation to those who will believe!  (Romans 1:16-17)  “It is because of Him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God–that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.”  (1st Corinthians 1:30)

We must be humble to receive this message of the cross.  It is foolishness to those who claim worldly wisdom.  It is weakness to those who think themselves strong.  It is an offense to our intellect and strength, but it is God’s wisdom for the humble!  Oh how I love the cross and the One who gave His life for me!  May this message of God’s wrath against sin and God’s amazing love flow from us who believe each and every day!

Tags : , , , , ,

Sunday Rest and Reflection:Romans 12-16

Dear Friends,

Greetings on this wonderful day of rest in Jesus Christ!  I have somehow gotten off in my writing and we will need to read for the next six Sunday’s in order to finish the Bible on December 31st!  I am not sure how this happened but ask your forgiveness and pray for grace!  If I do this next year, I pray that I keep on track!  I am resting in God’s grace and thankful that it works out by doing it this way!

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship.  Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–His good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:1-2

“Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellow man has fulfilled the law.”  “Love does no harm to its neighbor. Love is the fulfillment of the law.” Romans 13:8,10

“For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men.” Romans 14:17-18

“May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 15:5-6

“May 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.” Romans 15:13

“Now to Him who is able to establish you by my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, but now revealed and made know through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all nations might believe and obey Him–to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen!” Romans 16:25-27

In His Love, Pastor John

Tags : , , , ,

Everyone Who Calls on the Lord Will Be Saved!

Scripture reading for November 21st: Romans 9-11

There are some people in religious circles who believe in universal salvation.  In other words, no one will be lost.  They contend that God is good and He would never send anyone to hell who is made in His image.  If you take only the verses on God’s love and twist your reading of Scripture, you could justify this position.  However, this is not the teaching of the Scripture!  Paul is explaining in Romans 9-11 how God plans to save the Jews, a very religious people who had the right of adoption as sons, the covenants, the law and temple worship, and all the promises.  Although they had all this, they still needed to come to God by faith in His Son Jesus Christ!

“That 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.  For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.  As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in Him will never  be put to shame.” For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile–the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on Him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10:9-13

Salvation begins in the heart.  It is with the heart that we believe that Jesus Christ is Lord and that God raised Him from the dead.  We believe that He died for our sins on the cross as the Son of God, descended from Abraham in the flesh through the son of promise, Isaac.  We simply believe in God’s mercy through Christ, not in our works to be right or righteous. When we believe, we are justified by faith just like Abraham and Sarah.  Our believing is counted as righteousness in our heavenly account because of what Christ has provided in His death, burial and resurrection.

Because we believe in our heart, we confess with our mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord!  This is the confession that can save us.  Confession is not a work that we must do.  It is the natural flow of a heart that believes and is fully persuaded about Jesus Christ!  It is an outworking of faith.  We confess Jesus as Lord and live in submission to Him and His word.

Faith puts both Jew and Gentile on the same level ground at the foot of the cross of Jesus Christ.  Believing opens the door to all who will call on the Lord for saving!  In this manner, all will be saved who call on the Lord!  If you will not believe and confess Jesus as Lord, you will be lost eternally!  It is really simple.  If you have called on Jesus for salvation, take time and thank Him for His marvelous gift.  If not, today is a great day to do so!  It’s available to everyone who will!

Tags : , , , , ,

Abba, Father (Daddy)!

Scripture reading for November 20th: Romans 6-8

Fathers are important people in the lives of their children.  God has given fathers the responsibility of modeling for their children the character of God, the Father.  They are to teach their children how to love, serve, and give their lives to God and others.  Sin has marred this process so that many times fathers teach the opposite to their children.  Children hate their fathers or in many instances don’t even know their father.  In Romans 8, Paul teaches us about the new relationship that salvation brings with our heavenly Father through the Holy Spirit.

“For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship.  And by Him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.  Now if we are children, then we are heirs–heirs of God and co -heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings that we may also share in His glory.” Romans 8:15-17

When we repent and invite Jesus to be Lord of our lives, the Holy Spirit comes to live in us.  We are adopted into the family of God and made a part of that family.  The Holy Spirit gives us a deep understanding that we are children of God and our inner man cries out, “Abba”, which is the Greek word for “Daddy”.  It is the affectionate title of a family member for their father!  Jesus taught His disciples to pray, “Our Father in heaven.” (Matthew 6:9)   He told them that He only did what his Father showed Him to do.  (John 5:19-20)

We become “co-heirs” with Christ in the Father’s family!  (Romans 8:17)  This means that we are in the will!  We have an inheritance from our Daddy’s estate!  What does that estate contain?  God owns everything!  He made the universe, stars, planets, and every living thing visible and invisible!  He rules as King!  We are heirs of the highest royalty!  This truth is beyond our comprehension with our natural mind!  We must have revelation to grasp what God has given us!

There is one stipulation that is often overlooked.  We will share in this inheritance of glory if we are willing to share in His sufferings.  What does this mean?  When Jesus lived on earth, he suffered temptations and overcame them by the Holy Spirit.  He suffered persecution, physical torture, and even death because of His willing obedience to the Father who loved Him and us.  He loved us enough to endure the pain and shame of crucifixion so that we might be adopted into Father’s family!  (Hebrews 12:1-2)  Now that we are part of that family, we must obediently submit to a path of suffering to enter into glory!

As you go through your day today, take time to talk to your “Abba” and tell Him how much you appreciate what He has provided!  Take any inconvenience or suffering as opportunity to thank Him for the coming glory!

Tags : , , , , ,

Considering God Faithful

Scripture reading for November 19th: Romans 4-5

Faith always has an object and that object is God!  God alone is trustworthy and faithful to His word.  If He said it, He will do it!  He has the power to do whatever He says He will and the character of never lying!  Paul writes to us today about Abraham and Sarah and what they discovered in their journey with God.

“Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it has been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”  “Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead–since he was about a hundred years old–and that Sarah’s womb was also dead.  Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had the power to do what He had promised. This is why ‘it was credited to him as righteousness.'” Romans 4:18-22

Sometimes things look impossible to the natural eye.  When Abraham and Sara left their home to go to Canaan, God told them that He would give them offspring.  (Genesis 15:4-6)  In fact, their offspring would number more than the stars in the sky!  Abraham believed God and it was counted as righteousness!

Time passed and they tried to produce the offspring.  Nothing happened and they were getting older.  Sarah gave Abraham her maid and she conceived a son, Ishmael.  They thought that perhaps this child was the promised seed, but God visited them again and told them that in their old age that they would have a son from their own bodies!  This seemed so impossible that Sarah, listening to the angelic visitor, laughed out loud!  (Genesis 18:10-15)  However, God restored their bodies and they had the child, Isaac, whose name means “laughter’!  God’s word is good and He is faithful!  He has the power to do whatever He says!

What lessons can we gain from today’s Scripture reading?  Faith is not difficult.  It is simply coming to the point of being fully persuaded that God is faithful!  What He has promised, He will bring to pass!  If you have heard Him promise you a child, believe it and prepare for a child!  If He has shown you it is time to move to a new city and preach the Gospel, pack up and head out!  Your faith is counted as righteousness!  How marvelous is the grace of our amazing God!

Tags : , , , , ,

God Gave Them Over!

Scripture reading for November 18th: Romans 1-3

My wife and I have raised 5 children and discipline has not been easy.  Children are born with a strong sin-nature.  They want what they want, when they want it!  Part of the job of parenting is to set boundaries and not allow the children to have their own way.  Sometimes, their own way could be dangerous and lead to injury or possibly death.  As parents we want to instruct our children to make wise choices that will enable them to go through life with God’s blessing and favor.  We use various means of discipline to help them out but when they become old enough, they must find out for themselves.

In Romans, the Apostle Paul describes God’s discipline on those who refuse to acknowledge Him and His right to direct and discipline their lives.  God makes Himself known to all men through nature.  (Romans 1:20)  When men, made in God’s image, refuse to acknowledge the truth about God as creator and sustainer of all life they come under God’s wrath.  God’s wrath is His holy anger against sin and rebellion.  God’s wrath is something that is happening on a continual basis and also something experienced by those who die in a lost state after the final judgment.

As a result of suppressing the truth about God that was made clear to them by God through nature, men become darkened in their hearts and their thinking becomes futile and empty.  They imagine themselves as the center of all things and think they are wise and intelligent.  This foolish thinking leaves God out and puts man at the center of everything.  When man chooses this route, against all evidence to the contrary, God’s response is to give them over to what they desire in their darkened hearts.  “Have it your way!” might be another way to say it!

As a result of being given over, men exchange the truth of God for a lie and begin to worship created things rather than the creator.  (Romans 1:25)  They go into sexual immorality and sin.  The sexual immorality takes the form of homosexuality and lesbian activity.  Every kind of sin and wickedness flows from God simply withdrawing His light from their minds because of their choice to ignore plain truth!  These under God’s wrath of being ‘given over’ not only participate in this wickedness but honor others who also practice this same kind of wickedness!  (Romans 1:32)

As we look at our nation and it’s spiritual state, we can understand where we are in God’s sight.  He has given many people over to their own lusts and darkness.   Much light is available, but when men refuse light and choose darkness, God gives them over.  He forces no one to follow truth, but offers truth to all.  He wants none to perish but has made provision for all who will choose salvation.  The power of the Gospel message offers righteousness by faith to all who will believe!  (Romans 1:16-17)  Lord, have mercy on our nation!

Tags : , , ,