9/27/16 Our Faith Is True, & Backed Up By Historical Facts

“But we know, because it is a historical fact, that Jesus did rise from the dead, and is the first to do so out of all those who have died belonging to Him.  Because death came into the world through the sins of Adam and Eve, humans, the resurrection of the dead had to come through a human as well.  Just as we all die through Adam’s sin, we all live through Jesus’ sacrifice.  But it had to happen in the right order – first Jesus had to die and be raised back to life again, then all we who believe in Him will be raised when He returns to us.  And then, the end of this world will come, when Jesus will conquer all the kings of the world and all power and authority will be His alone, and He will present His Kingdom to His Father.  Then human beings and God will be reconciled to each other, and we will have no more need for any kind of earthly authority, because God will be our one and only King forevermore.  Jesus will reign over us until all the earthly opposition has been conquered.  When all sin is removed from the world, when everyone is freed from the clutches of false religions and lies, then death itself will also be conquered, and nobody will ever die again, just as the Psalm prophesies.  Of course, when Jesus told us that ‘all things are put under Him,’ He does not mean that God will be put under Him, because God is the one putting all things under Jesus.  When all things return to God’s rule, Jesus the Son will also be under God’s rule, so that God will be all in all, and His plan will be complete.”

 

1 Corinthians 15:20-28, Psalm 8:6

9/26/16 What If Our Faith Is A Lie?

“Now, if I have taught you, and you have believed, that Jesus was raised from the dead back to life, how is it that some of you are still asserting that there is no such thing as resurrection of the dead?  Follow that to its logical conclusion with me.  If there is no resurrection of the dead, then Jesus is still dead.  If Jesus is still dead, then my fellow apostles and I have been spreading lies and delusions, and you who believed them have faith in lies and delusions.  And we are found guilty of lying to and about God, because we have sworn that God raised Jesus from the dead, and if the dead do not rise, then God did not raise Jesus from the dead.  If Jesus is not alive, then you have believed in vain, and you are still responsible for paying the penalty for all your sins.  This means that anyone who has died since believing in the power of Jesus’ blood to save them from their sins is lost, because they died without a way to pay for their sins, and therefore are eternally separated from God.  If it is only for this short time that we are alive on the earth that we live and hope in Jesus, but He has no power to save us after we die, then we are the most pitiable of all people in the world – we who endure all kinds of hardship because of the hope and joy we have in belonging to Jesus.”

 

1 Corinthians 15:12-19

9/25/16 Return To What You First Believed, And Remember What Is Important

“Now, my brothers and sisters, I feel that I must remind you of the Good News I brought to you, that you received with joyful hearts, through which you have been redeemed, and by which you are being saved little by little every day until the day comes when He returns to us, if you continue to hold on tight to the Truth that I preached to you.  That is, unless you just said you believed but you really didn’t understand what you were saying, or unless God’s Word isn’t really true.  I preached to you what was taught to me, that Jesus died to take the penalty for our sins, according to the prophecies written in the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He came back to life again on the third day, also according to prophecies in the Scriptures.  I told you that he was seen by Peter, and then by all the apostles, and then by over five hundred brothers and sisters in our faith all at once.  Most of these people are still alive now, although some have died.  After that, He was seen by James, and then all the apostles again, before He ascended into Heaven.  And last of all, He was seen by me, although not in the same way as the other apostles saw Him, because they are like the first born in the family, and I am like the baby of the family, not worthy to receive the inheritance of the first born.  Because I am the lowest of the apostles, and I don’t feel that I am worthy to be called an apostle, because I terrorized the church of God.  But, by His grace I am what I am – a sinner, saved by the mercy of Jesus, and now called to be His apostle.  And His grace for me was not in vain, because I have worked harder than anyone else for His sake, although I cannot even claim that hard work for my own, because it was God working within me.  So, it matters not whether it was preached by me or by one of the other apostles.  It is still the same Truth, which you all received gladly and recognized as Truth.”

 

1 Corinthians 15:1-11

9/24/16 Follow Tradition Regarding Women’s Roles In Church, & Regard My Words As Jesus’ Commandments

“Tradition and the Law of Moses dictate that women are not allowed to speak during worship services, so they should be silent in church and submit to the men of the church.  Some may ask, if women must stay silent in church, how can they ask questions about areas in which they want to learn more?  I tell you, if a woman would like to learn about something, she should ask her husband in the privacy of their home, so that the church will not be shamed in the eyes of the community.  I know that at many times, you as a church have acted as though you are the recipients of God’s word, and therefore the leaders of the Christian world.  You have acted against many of the teachings I gave you in the practices of your church, and it is to your detriment.  Now your church is in turmoil.  If anyone among you thinks he has received a spiritual gift, let him prove it by being in agreement that what I am writing to you is the Lord’s command.  But if anyone refuses to acknowledge what I write as God’s truth, he cannot be a true believer.  So, my brothers and sisters, don’t say that the gift of speaking in foreign languages is not a spiritual gift, but at the same time, remember that prophecy is of more value to the church, and strive to be orderly and loving in all that you do as a church body.”

 

1 Corinthians 14:34-40

9/23/16 Order In The Church

“Now, apply this teaching in your churches.  In the past, whenever you have come together to worship, everyone has come in anticipation of sharing the glory of his own gift, and there has been chaos in the church because everyone is vying for attention at the same time.  But God is not the God of chaos; He is the God of order.  So it should be in the church.  And before you enter the church, examine your hearts – do you desire to use your gift for your own glory, or to strengthen and encourage your brothers and sisters.  Everything that is done in the church should be done for the benefit of all.  So, if there are those who can speak in foreign languages, let there be at most two or three speaking in the church, and take turns doing so in an orderly fashion.  Let there be one who interprets all that is said, for the benefit of the whole church body.  But if there is no one there who is able to interpret, save the speaking in foreign languages for the privacy of your own homes, for private communion with God.  If there are prophets among you, do the same – allow two or three to speak, taking turns, and let the rest listen carefully to judge whether the words are from God.  If, however, there is one who receives a sudden revelation in the middle of  worship, let everyone else be silent so that this person may speak, because a sudden revelation usually means it is something of immediate relevance to the whole body.  In doing this, everyone can learn and be encouraged.  For those of you who may argue that when God’s Holy Spirit comes upon you, there is no way for you to stay silent and wait your turn, I tell you that your spirit is controlled by God’s Spirit, and He will give you the power to proclaim His words in an orderly manner, because He does not want confusion.  He wants His church to be in peace and unity, just as all the churches who come together in His Name.”

 

1 Corinthians 14:26-33

9/22/16 Speaking In Foreign Languages May Draw People In, But Prophecy Will Convince Them Of God’s Truth

“My brothers and sisters, I urge you not to act like children in regards to your spiritual gifts, arguing over whose gift is better and flaunting what you have over what your brothers and sisters have.  Be mature, sharing your gift and using it for the benefit of all, seeking to gain greater understanding of the things of God and to use this understanding to help one another.  But be like babies in that they are innocent and gentle.  Isaiah wrote, ‘”With men of other tongues and other lips I will speak to this people; and yet, for all that, they will not hear Me,” says the Lord.’  So speaking in foreign languages is to be used as a sign to those who do not believe in our Messiah, to draw them to the church in order to seek further understanding.  And prophesying is for believers, who need no sign to point them to the Messiah, because they already know Him, but who are seeking to know Him better.  Now, if all in the church are worshipping together and all speaking in foreign languages, and people come in who are either new to their faith or unbelievers, what will they think?  They will hear all of you speaking unintelligible words and turn around and run out of there, believing you all to be crazy.  But if everyone in the church receives a prophecy from the Lord, and all take turns proclaiming these prophecies before the whole church, someone coming in for the first time will hear God’s truth and be convinced of it.  Hearing everyone speak God’s wisdom, those who are new in the faith or unbelievers will grow more and more sure of the truth of what is being spoken, and the dark places of their hearts will be exposed to the light, showing their sins and their need for forgiveness.  And then, they will fall to their knees and worship God, and go and tell all their friends that God is with you all.”

 

1 Corinthians 14:20-25

9/21/16 Find A Balance Between Mind And Spirit

“And so I say to you, if you have the spiritual gift of speaking foreign languages, pray that you would also be given the gift of interpreting or translating those languages.  If I pray in a foreign language but do not understand it, well, my spirit is praying and communicating with God, which is good, but I don’t understand what I am praying.  If I don’t understand what I myself am saying, how can I communicate it to others for their encouragement?  What, then am I to do if I am not given the gift of understanding the language in which I am speaking to God?  I will continue to use it in order that my spirit can pray and sing to God, but at the same time, I will also pray and sing in the language my brothers and sisters and I can understand, in order to benefit all.  For those of you who have been only communicating with God and not with your brothers and sisters, I ask, what good is it to proclaim the message given to you by the Spirit in a foreign language in the company of the whole church, when nobody – including you – is benefiting from it?  How can everyone say ‘Amen’ to your proclamation without knowing what has been said?  It is right to use the gift, and to give thanks for, and with, the gift, but you must also seek to build up your brothers and sisters.  I thank God that He has given me this gift, and that He has helped me to excel in it.  But still, when I am in church, I would rather speak five words that my brothers and sisters and I can all understand than ten thousand words in a language none of us can understand, so that I may teach others.”

 

1 Corinthians 14:13-19

9/20/16 The Best Gifts Are Useless If They Can’t Be Used To Benefit Others

“My brothers and sisters, if I come to you speaking a foreign language, what good is it to you, unless I am able to somehow translate to you the revelation, the knowledge, the prophecy, or the teaching that I wish to convey?  Consider musical instruments.  When they are played, each one has a distinctive sound to it, and when you listen you can tell what instrument is playing.  If they all sounded the same, how would you know which instrument was playing?  And in battle, when a trumpet is blown, the trumpeter plays certain notes and rhythms that signal to the army what they are to do.  If the trumpet does not make a sound that the army understands, how will they know whether to prepare for battle, or to retreat?  And you, when you speak, you use your tongue to form words and sounds, but if nobody understands you, it is like you are talking to the wall – useless!  There are many different languages in the world, but each one is significant only to those who speak and understand it.  So if I don’t understand the language, the person speaking to me is a foreigner to me, and I am a foreigner to him.  If you are given the gift of speaking in foreign languages, it profits nothing if there is no one to understand you.  I want you to earnestly seek spiritual gifts, and to work hard to master these gifts, but do so in order to build up and encourage your brothers and sisters, not for your own glory and advancement.”

 

1 Corinthians 14:6-12

9/19/16 Prophecy Is More Valuable Than Speaking In Foreign Languages

“Strive for spiritual gifts still, even while you are seeking after love, because even though faith, hope, and love are eternal and superior to spiritual gifts, these gifts are also valuable and useful in building up the church.  I know that you have placed great importance on the gift of speaking in foreign languages, but it is actually a gift of lesser importance.  Prophecy is the greater gift.  Both involve God speaking His messages to His people, but the only people who benefit from the messages coming from one who can speak in a foreign language are the people who can understand that language.  Not even the one speaking the message knows what it is, unless he has also been given the gift of understanding and interpreting foreign languages.  Prophets, however, are able to receive, understand, and communicate God’s messages to the whole church; and in so doing, build up and strengthen the whole church through these messages.  But the one speaking in a foreign language quite often is only engaging in communication between himself and God, and instead of using the gift to build up the whole church, it is used just to build up the pride of that one person.  I am not saying that this gift is not to be valued.  On the contrary, it is a very valuable gift indeed, one that I would be happy to see everyone possess.  But prophecy is to be esteemed more highly, unless the one who speaks in a foreign language is also able to interpret that language, in order to strengthen and build up the whole church.”

 

1 Corinthians 14:1-5

9/18/16 Faith, Hope, & Love

“Love is eternal.  Spiritual gifts are temporal.  They are given to us here and now, to help us understand God’s ways a little bit better, but they will not last.  Even the wisdom, knowledge, and prophecies given to us are only partial, because we cannot understand the whole picture.  When the time comes for Jesus to return and take us to Heaven to be with Him forever, we will have no more need of these spiritual gifts, because sin will no longer be a part of us, and our bodies and minds will be restored to what they were intended to be before sin entered the world and corrupted us.  But love will still remain.  The difference between who we are now and who we will be in Heaven is like the difference between childhood and adulthood.  Children do not understand as much as adults do.  They do not think or speak with the wisdom or knowledge of adults, because they do not yet have that wisdom or knowledge.  But adults have, over many years, acquired a wealth of knowledge, and they understand things more fully than children.  Now, it is as if we see everything in a warped and blurry mirror, but when Jesus takes us to Himself we will see Him face to face, understanding Him completely because we will learn directly from Him using minds free from the corruption of sin.  God knows all – He knows us better than we know ourselves.  But when we live with Him we will see things with His clarity.  So instead of esteeming spiritual gifts more highly than anything else in this world, place faith, hope, and love on that pedestal, and love as the most important of these.”

 

1 Corinthians 13:8-13