Posts Tagged ‘church’

Under Gods Command

1 Corinthians 9:01 Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are you not the result of my work in the Lord?

Some Corinthians were questioning Paul’s authority and rights as an apostle, so Paul gave his credentials, he actually had seen and talked with the resurrected Christ, who had called him to be an apostle (see Acts 9:3-18). Such credentials make the advice he gives in this letter more persuasive. In 2 Corinthians 10-13, Paul defends his apostleship in greater detail.

Changed lives were the evidence that God was using Paul.

Lets Bring it Home: Does your faith have an impact on others? You can be a life-changer, helping others grow spiritually, if you dedicated yourself to being used by God and letting him make you effective.

Under Gods Command

Paul Addresses Church Problems (1:1-6:20)

1 Corinthians 1:1-3

Through various sources, Paul had received reports of problems in the Corinthian church, including jealousy, divisiveness, sexual immorality, and failure to discipline members.  Churches today must also address the problems they face.  We can learn a great deal by observing how Paul handled these delicate situations.

(1) Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and our brother Sosthenes, Paul’s purpose for writing was to correct those problems and to answer questions church members had asked in a previous letter.  Paul was given a special calling from God to preach about Jesus Christ.  Each Christian has a job to do, a role to take, or a contribution to make.  One assignment may seem more spectacular than another, but all are necessary to carry out God’s greater plans for his church and for his world.

(2) To the Church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ-their Lord and ours:

A personal initiation makes a person feel wanted and welcome.  We are “called to be holy.” God personally invites us to be citizens of his eternal kingdom.  But Jesus Christ, God’s Son is the only one who can bring us into this glorious Kingdom because he is the only one who removes our sins. Sanctified means that we are chosen or set apart by Christ for his service.  We accept god’s invitation by accepting his Son, Jesus Christ and by trusting in the work he did on the cross to forgive our sins.

(3) Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Grace is God’s free gift of salvation given to us in Christ.  Receiving it brings us peace (see Romans 5:1). In a world of noise, confusion, and relentless pressures, people long for peace.  Many give up the search, thinking it impossible to find, but true peace of heart and mind is available to us through faith in Jesus Christ.

Lets Bring It Home:  Be available to God by placing your gifts at his service.  Then as you discover what he calls you to do, be ready to do it.

Under Gods Command

1 Timothy 3:08-15 Deacons, likewise, are to be men worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursing dishonest gain.  They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience.  They must first be tested, and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons. 

In the same way, their wives are to be women worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything.  A deacon must be the husband of but one wife and must manage his children and his household well.  Those who have served well gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus.  Although I hope to come to you soon, I am writing you these instructions so that, if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth. 

3:8–13 Deacon means “one who serves.” This position was possibly begun by the apostles in the Jerusalem church (Acts 6:1–6) to care for the physical needs of the congregation—at that time it was the needs of the Greek-speaking widows. Deacons were leaders in the church, and their qualifications resemble those of the overseers. In some churches today, the office of deacon has lost its importance. New Christians are often asked to serve in this position, but that is not the New Testament pattern. Paul says that potential deacons should have high qualifications and should be very carefully chosen.

3:11 The women can refer to women helpers or deaconesses. It could also mean wives of deacons, or female leaders of the church (such as Phoebe, the deaconess mentioned in Romans 16:1). In either case, Paul expected the behavior of prominent women in the church to be just as responsible and blameless as that of prominent men.

3:14, 15 The Bible is the written form of what God expects us to know and do. God chose Paul to carry out one phase of the plan. Through Paul, the inspired teaching was written down. As such, it was passed on to Timothy. Then, it was passed on to others. Later, it was passed on to us.

Lets Bring it Home: Times have changed, but the original authority remains. Because the Bible is from God, it must be studied seriously, understood thoroughly, and applied faithfully. Paul intended this letter to teach believers how to conduct themselves. We would do well to read carefully.  How much time are we spending obtaining a relationship with God, by reading his word?


Under Gods Command

1 Timothy 3:01-07 Here is a trustworthy saying. If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a noble task. Now the overseer is to be above reproach faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect.  (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. He must also have a good reputation with outsiders so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap.

3:1 To be a church leader (“overseer”) is a heavy responsibility because the church belongs to the living God. The word overseer can refer to a pastor, church leader, or presiding elder. It is good to want to be a spiritual leader, but the standards are high. Paul lists some of the qualifications here. Church leaders should not be elected because they are popular, nor should they be allowed to push their way to the top. Instead they should be chosen by the church because of their respect for the truth, both in what they believe and in how they live.

3:2 Paul’s statement that each overseer should have only one wife prohibits both polygamy and promiscuity. This does not prohibit an unmarried person from becoming an elder or a widowed elder from remarrying.

3:4, 5 Christian workers and volunteers sometimes make the mistake of being so involved in their work that they neglect their families, and especially the firm discipline of their children. Spiritual leadership, however, must begin at home. If a man is not willing to care for, discipline, and teach his children, he is not qualified to lead the church. Don’t allow your volunteer activities to detract from your family responsibilities.

3:6 New believers should become secure and strong in the faith before taking leadership roles in the church. Too often, in a church desperate for workers, new believers are placed in positions of responsibility prematurely. New faith needs time to mature. New believers should have a place of service, but they should not be put into leadership positions until they are firmly grounded in their faith, with a solid Christian lifestyle and a knowledge of the Word of God. Younger believers who are selected for office need to beware of the damaging effects of pride. Pride can seduce emotions and cloud reason. It can make those who are immature susceptible to the influence of unscrupulous people. Pride and conceit were the devil’s downfall, and he uses pride to trap others.

3:7 People outside the church should speak well of those who would lead in the church. The good reputation with outsiders that Paul required is realized when Christians act as dependable friends and good neighbors. How we carry out our duties as citizens, neighbors, and friends facilitates or frustrates our ability to communicate the gospel.

Lets Bring it Home: Do you have friends who are not believers? Does your conduct help or hinder the cause of Christ? As the church carries out its mission in an increasingly secular world, the church needs those who build bridges with unbelievers in order to bring them the gospel.

Do you hold a position of spiritual leadership, or would you like to be a leader some day? Check yourself against Paul’s standard of excellence. Those with great responsibility must meet high expectations.

Under Gods Command

Romans 12:04-05 Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.

Paul uses the concept of the human body to teach how Christians should live and work together. Just as the parts of the body function under the direction of the brain, so Christians are to work together under the command and authority of Jesus Christ.

Lets Bring it home: We Christians must avoid two common errors: (1) being too proud of our abilities, or (2) thinking we have nothing to give to the body of believers. Instead of comparing ourselves to one another, we should use our different gifts, together, to spread the Good News of salvation.

Under Gods Command

Romans 10:14-15 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

In telling others about Christ, an effective witness must include more than being a good example. Eventually, we will have to explain the content, the what and the how of the gospel. Modeling the Christian life is important, but we will need to connect the mind of the unbeliever and the message of the gospel. There should never be a debate between those who favor lifestyle evangelism (one’s living proclaims the gospel) and confrontational evangelism (declaring the message). Both should be used together in promoting the gospel.

Lets Bring it home: Is God calling you to take a part in making his message known in your community? Think of one person who needs to hear the Good News, and think of something you can do to help him or her hear it. Then take that step as soon as possible.

Under Gods Command
Life Through the Spirit

Romans 8:6-9 The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; 7 the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8 Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God. 9 You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.

Have you ever worried about whether or not you really are a Christian? A Christian is anyone who has the Spirit of God living in him or her. If you have sincerely trusted Christ for your salvation and acknowledged him as Lord, then the Holy Spirit has come into your life, and you are a Christian. You won’t know that the Holy Spirit has come if you are waiting for a certain feeling; you will know he has come because Jesus promised he would. When the Holy Spirit is working within you, you will believe that Jesus Christ is God’s Son and that eternal life comes through him (1 John 5:5); you will begin to act as Christ directs (Galatians 5:22,23); you will find help in your daily problems and in your praying (Romans 8:26,27); you will be empowered to serve God and do his will (Acts 1:8) (Romans 12:6); and you will become part of God’s plan to build up his church (Ephesians 4:12, 13).

Who is a disciple of Jesus Christ?
1. A disciple is one who fist has a personal relationship with Jesus Christ
2. A disciple is one who regularly seeks out
3. A disciple is one who reads and meditates upon the Bible
4. A disciple is one who is faithful in attendance at opportunities for worship and praise
5. A disciple is one who routinely shares with others what the Lord has done in their life
6. A disciple is one who cheerfully returns a tithe of what God has given
7. A disciple is one who serves the poor, the hungry, the hurting, and the lost as if that person were Christ himself.

Lets Bring it Home: How many of these fit into your Christian Walk?

Proverbs 28:9 If anyone turns a deaf ear to the law, even his prayers are detestable. 

How do you listen to preaching? It will affect your life. If you neglect or reject preaching, God will hate and reject your prayers. This is a sober warning for your future success.

Here is one of the most important proverbs. It involves an issue that affects every person, the consequences are severe, and the remedy is easy and simple. You can distinguish yourself in God’s sight for His blessings more quickly here than most anywhere else.

Do you attend every church service you can? Do you pray and prepare before arriving? Do you stay focused and absorb as much as possible? Do you review what you heard? Do you meditate on the subject? Do you examine yourself for changes the lesson called for?

The Bereans were noble for receiving Paul’s preaching with very ready minds and studying out what they heard (Acts 17:11), but the Jews of Jerusalem plugged their ears and rejected Stephen (Acts 7:51-60). Where do you fall between these two extremes?

Do you attend church as a Sunday habit? Do you miss whenever you feel like it? Do you watch television Saturday night instead of preparing? Do you doze during the preaching? Do you let your mind wander? Do you read your Bible or a hymnal instead of listening?

God reveals Himself and His will by preaching (Mal 2:7; I Cor 1:21). He picks the men, gives them ability to do it, convicts and leads their minds, and gives them their content – either by visions in the past or by written scripture today (II Tim 3:16-17; 4:2).

Preachers are God’s ambassadors (II Cor 5:20). He sends them with His message for your profit, if you will hear and obey. If you neglect God’s ambassador and the message he brings, you mistreat God Himself, and you will pay (Ex 16:8; Ps 105:14-15; I Sam 8:7).

What more can He say to get your attention? If you slight His words by preaching, He will reject your words in praying (Pr 1:24-30). The matter is important, for you need His wisdom through preaching for your success, and you need Him to hear your prayers.

The Lord warned that He will reject the prayers of those who do not listen submissively. In fact, He will consider their prayers to be abominations! Here is a very serious warning about your attitude toward the preaching of God’s word. He explained to the regathered Jews this was the reason for their horrific punishment by the Babylonians (Zech 7:7-14)!

Imagine your prayer being an abomination to God! While you beg Him for blessing and favor in your life, He intensely despises, hates, and loathes your efforts and words. Your prayers nauseate Him! It is one thing to have your prayers hindered by neglecting your wife (Mal 2:13-14; I Pet 3:7), but this is a far worse thing of God hating your prayers.

How were the Bereans noble? Consider Acts 17:11 closely. First, they heard Paul with very receptive minds. They did not listen scornfully, raising their own opinions, objections, or foolish questions against his preaching. They wanted to hear; they wanted to believe; they assumed he was right; they were thankful they had a man of God to declare truth to them. Their minds did not wander or wonder if perhaps Paul was wrong.

Second, they searched the Bible daily to confirm his words. They did not mock Paul’s superior knowledge by five minutes in a concordance trying to reject him. Some think they can ignore a preacher’s many hours of study on a particular subject and a lifetime in God’s word with a few minutes of weekend reading. Such is the mentality and nature of foolish and unlearned questions, which godly ministers ignore (II Tim 2:23; Titus 3:9).

Human pride is terrible, and a sermon against a sin of yours will bring it out. But pastors are to wage war against your opinions (II Cor 10:3-6)! He has studied the subject 100 times more than you; he is preaching to the varied needs of many people; he has a divine mandate to be true to Scripture alone without fear of men (Jer 1:17); he is not preaching his agenda; he is merely repeating orders from the King of kings. Remember these things.

Paul, knowing your temptation to resent such preaching, warned in I Thessalonians 5:20, “Despise not prophesyings.” God has warned in both testaments to listen attentively and submissively. The Lord Jesus Christ soberly brought his parable of the sower to a conclusion by saying, “Take heed therefore how ye hear” (Luke 8:18). His judgment is severe – He will take from the stubborn listener the little knowledge he thinks he has.

Cornelius gives one of the best examples of receptive hearers, when he assembled his family and friends to hear “all things that are commanded thee of God” (Acts 10:33). And Israel held a great celebration for understanding preaching that pointed out duties they had overlooked (Neh 8:1-18). The Thessalonians heard Paul’s Bible preaching as all preaching should be heard – as if the words were the very words of God (I Thess 2:13).

No sermon is perfect, as any honest preacher will tell you. There are always small faults you can criticize, and conscientious pastors agonize over them; but the hearers who focus on them are wicked scorners (Is 29:20-21). Peter preached like an unlearned fisherman to the scornful Jews, but he had the wise words of salvation from Jesus (Acts 4:12-13).

God will defend His preachers, as forty-two disrespectful children discovered (II Kings 2:23-25). Korah and his friends wish they had respected Moses and his preaching better (Num 16:1-33). God does not appreciate men ignoring or rejecting the message of His ambassadors (Deut 1:41-44). Paul despised such men (I Cor 14:36-38), and he did not allow foolish contentions, even about matters as minor as the length of hair (I Cor 11:16).

Not all preachers are God’s messengers. Most pastors do not preach God’s word, just as the Bible warns (Amos 8:11-12). Most Christians want fables instead of truth (II Tim 4:3-4), so they find effeminate preachers that prey on vulnerable women (II Tim 3:6-7) with their false Christianity (II Tim 3:1-5). The cure is simple – preach the word (II Tim 4:2).

It is hard today to find a church where God’s word is faithfully declared, but you must, because settling for a contemporary pretender like Joel or Benny is just one more way to violate this proverb. You cannot satisfy Solomon’s warning by listening to men merely talk, tell jokes, tell stories, pretend to have visions, smile real pretty, or wear white suits.

Reject personality cults, pretend miracles, big business, or wives involved. Measure preachers by their fruit (Matt 7:15-20). What is the effect or result of the ministry? Does it redirect lives to comply with God’s word? And by all means measure it by the scriptures (Ps 119:98-100,128; Isaiah 8:20; Rom 16:17-18; Gal 1:16-17; I Tim 6:3-5).

Finding a true preacher is a great blessing from God, as Elihu told Job (Job 33:23-26). It is God’s ordained way for you to know His will, and where there is no preacher, the people perish (Pr 29:18; I Sam 3:1; II Chr 15:3). No wonder God said preachers had beautiful feet (Is 52:7; Rom 10:15). Do not neglect the blessing of hearing God’s word.

The proverb’s warning is severe, as it should be, because rebellion against God’s word is like witchcraft, and stubbornness is like idolatry (I Sam 15:22-23). If the Lord of heaven discerns you are protecting an idol in your heart and rejecting His message, He will send you lying delusions, just as He did Ahab (Ezek 14:1-11; I Kings 22:8; II Thess 2:9-12).

Consider the advice Eli gave Samuel, when the Lord called him at night. Eli told Samuel to answer, “Speak, Lord; for thy servant heareth” (I Sam 3:39). This is the godly and humble attitude that will be blessed. He that hath ears to hear; let him hear. And let his prayers come up as a sweet savor in the nostrils of the glorious God in heaven. Amen.



Under Gods Command

Proverbs 13:8 A man’s riches may ransom his life, but a poor man hears not threat. 

What will you do for money? How much do you want to be rich? Will you hear a warning about the desire to be wealthy? Test your character and wisdom. Read on.

Here is one of the more difficult proverbs of Solomon. But you can find a wise lesson and warning, if you look carefully and diligently. Do you desire wisdom enough to take the time to read this proverb, consider it soberly, and grasp the following comments? The love of money is the root of all evil, and it destroys men’s lives, but the poor still crave it!

Commentators see two options. Either, a rich man can buy himself out of trouble, but the poor avoid most dangers by having nothing to attract enemies. Or, the wealth of a rich man attracts thefts and threats, while poverty protects the poor from such violence. In the first option, both riches and poverty are good; in the second option, riches are bad, and poverty is good. These interpretations are obscure; there is a clearer and simpler lesson.

A ransom is the price paid for freedom from captivity, to remove a penalty, or restore a previous condition (Pr 6:35; Ex 21:30; 30:12; Job 33:24; 36:18). Many men lose their souls by not giving up the pursuit of riches. Ambition and wealth become the ransom price of their lives. The desire to be rich and successful is the price, or cost, of their lives. When dying on their beds, men who have chased riches all their lives have an empty life!

They will not redeem their souls by choosing contentment over covetousness and greed. They sacrifice their lives for money, and then they go to the grave with nothing (Eccl 5:10-17). A rich man could enjoy life, naturally and spiritually, if he did not love money. He could be peaceful and quiet, but he chooses the obsession of acquiring yet more. This foolish and destructive fascination with riches is a common disease (Eccl 6:1-6).

Paul warned, “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have stumbled from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (I Tim 6:6-10).

The danger is clear – riches can destroy you. If a man loves money, he will sacrifice his soul and anything else to get it (Pr 15:27; 11:17,29; Hab 2:9-11). Riches are the ransom cost of his life. He could buy his freedom and peace, but he will not pay the price, which is giving up his pursuit of riches and being content with what he has. He remains a slave.

Jesus loved a rich, young ruler, who would not give up his riches to follow the Son of God. He would not ransom, or buy back, his life (Matt 19:16-22). Jesus knew the choice was as hard as a camel going through the eye of a needle (Matt 19:23-26), but He also taught that men should be willing to pay any price to save their own souls (Matt 16:26).

What about the poor? How does the second clause of the proverb relate to the first one? You know that it relates, or it would be a separate proverb. But you also see the disjunctive “but” connecting it. Therefore, there is a related contrast in the second phrase.

The poor live without many of the fears, worries, and burdens the rich endure – they even sleep better (Eccl 5:12). They watch the rich in their vain and troublesome pursuit of wealth (Ps 39:6), and they see the rich man die just like a low-class fool (Ps 49:6-13). But they will not learn from the object lesson, and they will not hear the wise testify that riches are vanity. They complain about their poverty and wish for the wealth of the rich.

How can you trust the interpretation given above, rather than the two popularized by commentators? The two clauses are related; the two clauses are disjunctive; rebuke is not the same as danger or trouble; and the poor refuse rebuke rather than never hearing any. And you can find related or similar instruction in other proverbs (Pr 10:15,22; 11:4,28; 13:7; 14:20; 15:27; 18:11; 19:1,4,7; 22:1,2; 23:4-5; 28:3,6,11,20,22; 30:7-9).

If you are rich, you are in great danger of missing the kingdom of God (Matt 19:23-26). The rich have generally been persecutors, rather than patrons, of Christians (Jas 2:6-7). It is your duty before God to resist trusting your riches, and it is your privilege before God to be willing to give your money away in order to lay hold on eternal life (I Tim 6:17-19).

If you are poor, be content with it (Jas 1:9-11; Jas 2:5; I Cor 1:26-29). Realize that godliness with contentment is truly great gain (I Tim 6:6; Heb 13:5). Remember and believe Solomon’s many rebukes of riches in Proverbs and Ecclesiastes (Pr 10:22; 15:16; 16:8; 28:6; Ps 37:16; Eccl 1:16 – 2:11). If you need more, pray wisely for a moderate increase, and make any godly changes the Bible approves (Pr 30:7-9; I Thess 4:11-12).

Riches are usually a curse. You arrived with nothing; you will leave with nothing; and God does not care how much you gathered during your life. Redeem your soul from this world’s mad worship of materialism and success, and hear the rebuke of wisdom instead. Seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness first, serve only one master, and lay up treasure in heaven (Matt 6:19-21,24,33). You will soon be glad you did.

Under Gods Command

 Proverbs 9:1-5 Wisdom has built her house; she has hewn out its seven pillars.  She has prepared her meat and mixed her wine; she has also set her table.  She has sent out her maids, and she calls from the highest point of the city.  Let all who are simple come in here! She says to those who lack judgment. Come, eat my food and drink the wine I have mixed. 

The banquet described in this chapter has some interesting parallels to the banquet Jesus described in one of his parables (Luke 14:15-24).  Many may intend to go, but they never make it because they get sidetracked by other activities that seem more important at the time.  Don’t let anything become more important than your search for God’s wisdom.